U.S. And Bolshevik Relations With The TBMM Government: The First Contacts,
H.B. Paksoy, D.Phil.
Originally published in The Journal of Sophia Asian Studies No. 12
(1994). pps. 211-251, reprinted courtesy of the author
"We have conducted a War of Independence. If the participants do not record it, its history will be reduced to fairytales."
During the 19th century, the European Balance of Power
struggles were very much in the minds of the participating
politicians and the ranking Civil Servants of the time. That
struggle had spilled over to become, in the words of
Kipling, the "Great Game in Asia." The "Eastern Question"
was but a sub-division of the "Great Game," whose origins
are traceable, inter alia, to the events leading to the
treaties of Turkmenchai (1828), Adrianople (1829); Crimean
War (1853-56) and the Congress of Berlin (1878). The
principal players of the game included the British, Russian
and German empires. What was justified on the surface as a
race to acquire colonies, to take up "white man's burden"
and to bring God's word to the "heathen populations," was
actually a serious competition to secure supplies of raw
materials and markets for industrial goods; or at least deny
them to the opposing states. Those maneuvers were designed
with grand strategic objectives and goals in sight, as
perceived by competing planners. It was in the Caucasus that
the Eastern Question and the Great Game were linked
directly, especially at the outset of the First World War.2
Against this backdrop, the circumstances leading to the
Turkish War of Independence, formally begun during 1919,
were turbulent.3 After the dissolution of the Russian
Tsarist Empire, the British planned to partition the regions
west of the Caspian Sea, with a view to founding a number of
small buffer states between the Bolshevik Russians and the
Middle East. For the purpose, they deployed their troops in
the regions of Merv and Baku. This was a continuation of the
long standing Great Game policies. Simultaneously, the
Ottoman Empire was also undergoing dismemberment4 and its
provinces were being occupied by other Allies of the British
according to the Treaty of Sevres signed by representatives
of the Ottoman government: the French (Adana, Marash and
environs); the Italians (Antalya region); and the Greeks
(with the active support of the British, the Western half of
Asia minor). The Ottoman capital was at that time under the
joint occupation of British, French and Italian troops. They
were reinforced by the local non-Turkish minorities of the
Ottoman Empire, wearing the army uniforms of the occupying
Allied armies, having been induced by the Allied powers to
Under these conditions, the first contacts between the
Bolshevik and the TBMM (Turkish Grand National Assembly)5
governments, as well as between the U. S. and the TBMM, were
primarily made through General Kazim Karabekir (1882-
1948)6. Karabekir's visitors from both the U. S. and the
Bolsheviks were charged by their respective governments with
tasks of observing and reporting actual conditions within
Though Karabekir evidently did not meet anyone from the
King-Crane Commission7, nor with Admiral Bristol8 of the U.S. Navy, he kept himself informed of their activities. The
contact with the U. S. Army General Harbord 9 came when the
latter led a sizeable delegation, replete with several film
crews, to investigate the state of the territory,
inhabitants and its administrative apparatus. Despite the
amicable contacts between the two men, this connection with
the U. S. side did not develop to the level of those with
the Bolsheviks, according to Karabekir, due to the self-
imposed constraints under which the American side was
As the Commander of the XV. Army Corps10, from April
1919, Karabekir had to deal not only with the strictly
military matters of his front, but the full economic,
political, religious and diplomatic aspects.11 Fluent in
French and German (also spoke and read Russian), an
experienced troop-commander of the First World War, and
having been exposed to world affairs at decision making
levels in the pre-war period, Karabekir was equipped to
undertake his primarily self-defined duties.
Karabekir's relations with the Bolsheviks were
extensive and complex. As the Bolsheviks did not yet have a
track record, he first had to assess this relatively recent
movement. Thus, he initiated contacts with the Bolsheviks
well before the Red Armies occupied the Caucasus during
1920-1921. Karabekir closely followed the developments
across the Caucasus, selected and appointed the personnel to
represent the TBMM government in several capitals, outlined
their negotiation parameters, and kept a close watch on the
economic, political and diplomatic conditions in the
neighboring territories -- including Iran and Afghanistan.
Karabekir's contacts with Moscow, perhaps more important
than his military activities, are significant in the early
history of the Turkish Republic. Through these channels of
communication, the TBMM government was able to exchange
diplomatic missions, and secure two initial financial aid
packages from Moscow, enabling the TBMM to carry forward the
Turkish National War of Independence. In the intervening
period, as he learned more about the new ideology, Karabekir
remained a Nationalist and firmly in opposition to
Bolshevism in his homeland. In addition to instigating the
Erzurum Congress (23 July - 7 August 1919), it was Karabekir
who, with those thoughts in mind, convened and negotiated
the Kars Treaty of 1921, signed between the TBMM and the
Bolshevik government that established the basis of the present borders between the USSR and the Turkish Republic.
This study explores the initial TBMM contacts with the
U. S. and the Bolsheviks.12
During 1919, under military occupation, the functions
of the Istanbul Ottoman government increasingly came under
the direct rule of foreign powers.13 While each of the
Allies was engaged in disseminating its own views, often in
competition against one another, a relatively new political
ideology and, simultaneously, a resurgence of colonialism
appeared on the scene. These were first applied in Istanbul
for eventual transmittal into the interior of the country:
Bolshevism and the Mandate. Several of the Powers
volunteered for the Mandate, or "advised" each other to take
it on. In fact, the Paris Peace Conference of 1919
established a special body, "The Inter-Allied Commission on
Mandates in Turkey" pursuant to the Secret Treaties among
the Allies signed between 1915-1917. However, economic and
political competition among the powers complicated the
issue. There were also disagreements even among the various
agencies of each Power as to how the Mandate issue ought to
be approached. Many favored partition of the Ottoman
territories based upon "existing knowledge," the nature of
which was not publicly divulged. Others urged comprehensive
studies of conditions on the ground before drawing lines on
the map. Some of those arguments were even previously
printed, either as official position papers, or as "private"
As befits the earlier European Balance of Power
Struggles, the disagreements among the Allies generally
stemmed from the politico-economic benefits to be derived
from the mandated areas, and their division. This was most
apparent from the specific oil exploitation agreements. For
example, "...by April 1919, France and Great Britain had
signed the Long-Berenger Oil Agreement, which became the
basis of the San Remo Oil Agreement of 24 April 1920. By
this agreement Great Britain and France delimited their oil
interests in Russia and Romania, British and French
colonies, and especially in Mesopotamia. France was allotted
a 25 per cent share in the oil exploitation."15 Shortly
before the Royal Navy had begun converting its fleets from
coal to oil burners, and the "Oil Policy in the Middle
Eastern Mandates" was already being discussed between the U.
S. and Great Britain.16 Thus, when the 10 August 1920
Sevres Treaty was signed as a supplement to the Treaty of
Versailles (signed on 28 June 1919)17, the division of economic
benefits was already agreed upon between the European Allies.
Therefore, the Sevres Treaty essentially
was providing the political framework through which the
earlier economic treaties were to be enforced, by dividing
the territories of the Ottoman lands, including Asia Minor,
among Great Britain, France and Italy, and their local
Following the Sevres Treaty, U. S. and Great Britain
began a diplomatic correspondence concerning the economic
rights of the U. S. in the region under discussion. Great
Britain, while not disputing the rights of the U. S.,
pointedly suggested that the issue be considered within the
League of Nations context. However, since the U. S. "had not
taken her seat at the League of Nations," controversy
continued.18 As one consequence, the U. S. did not become a
participant in the Lausanne Convention, which culminated in
the July 1923 Lausanne Treaty19. However, the U. S.
attained the status of Observer, with full rights to have
representatives present in all discussions. Shortly after
the signing of the Lausanne Treaty, the U. S. and Ankara
Governments concluded their bilateral agreement, the first
of many to come, "providing for protection of philanthropic
and religious enterprises, free navigation, adjustment of
claims, safeguarding of minorities, regulation of
naturalization, and archeological research." On 12 October
1927, the first U. S. Ambassador Joseph C. Grew presented
his credentials to the first President of the Turkish
Republic, Mustafa Kemal [Ataturk].20
During 1919, under the conditions of military
occupation, both Bolshevism and the Mandate found
enthusiastic supporters in Istanbul and even attracted
interest among some leaders of the Nationalist movement. The
first to receive consideration was the American Mandate,
since the proposals for the individual or collective
British, French and Italian Mandates were most vehemently
opposed. Despite that, British propaganda was intensifying
to take the mandate21. To facilitate it, the Ingiliz
Muhipleri Cemiyeti [Friends of England Society] was
established in Istanbul, with branches planned at every
major population center and even a Ladies Auxiliary22.
Aware of the efforts, Admiral Bristol became alarmed and
sent requests to the American Peace Commission in Paris (in
February 1919) for an investigative commission. The Allied
censorship exercised over the Istanbul press was so tight,
Admiral Bristol was unable to secure an outlet for his
Government's official views.
Apparently, Admiral Bristol was acquiring his own
information in every way possible, as he worked to persuade
his superiors on the need for the U. S. Mandate. The first
U. S. contact mentioned by Karabekir was with a Lieutenant
"said to be an adviser to Admiral Bristol." This Lieutenant
accompanied Rawlinson23 to Erzurum, along with a Russian
Colonel of the Denikin forces24, on 29 June 1919. Karabekir
does not identify the Lieutenant by name, or his Service
affiliation, but appears to be impressed with the ideas
expressed by this Lieutenant and his manner.25 Karabekir
also indicates that there were a number of other U. S.,
French26, Russian officers passing through his territory
during this period, on their way to the Caucasus. On 3 July
1919, the Ottoman General Staff Intelligence Department
circulated a summary of Istanbul newspaper accounts, on the
arrival in Istanbul from the Caucasus of a twelve member U.
S. delegation, on its way to the Paris Peace Conference to
submit its report. Since the King-Crane Commission did not
arrive in Istanbul for another month, and the Harbord
Commission followed King-Crane Commission's departure, this
12 man delegation must have been concerned with the proposed
Mandate in the Caucasus.
Indeed, members of the Missionary Board, the Food
Relief, plus various lone military officers were appearing
at sundry locations in the Caucasus under a multitude of
designations and duties.27 A number of the other
"Delegates" proved to be at best impostors, being mainly
persons from among the local allies of the Occupying Powers.
Some of these even appropriated the officer uniforms of the
British and the French armies, and impersonated allied
officers to the detriment of all concerned.28
The American Commission to Negotiate Peace (which had
its own Intelligence Section) finally recommended a
Commission to be sent to Turkey to investigate the proposal
for the U. S. Mandate. Approved by President Wilson29,
King-Crane Commission was formally charged with its
specified duties by the Secretary of State R. Lansing on 30
April 1919. On 29 May 1919, the King-Crane Commission,
officially designated as the American Section of the Inter-
Allied Commission on Mandates in Turkey, left Paris by rail.
The Commission first went to Syria and Iraq. The Turkish
portion of the King-Crane Commission's investigations began
on 23 July 1919, upon their arrival in Istanbul. On 31 July,
the Commission began interviews of all political parties.30
Despite the censorship, on 1 August 1919, Istanbul
newspapers report the arrival in Istanbul of an American
Delegation, which contacted the representatives of all
political parties there. This break in the apparent news
embargo was perhaps because the King-Crane Commission made
its presence widely-felt by contacting large groups of
interested parties, to obtain their positions with a view
toward reporting the entire spectrum to the Paris Peace
Conference. Admiral Bristol's efforts finally bore fruit.
Karabekir learned that a memorandum was adopted by an
amalgamation of political groups in Istanbul, containing the
framework of an American Mandate, to be handed to the
American delegation 13 August 1919.31 Consequently, the
Erzurum Congress, which has been in session since 23 July
(until 7 August 1919)32 sent a memorandum to President
Wilson on the same day (1 August). It was probably also
meant to remind all other parties of Wilson's 14 Points and the
fact that the Nationalists were aware of them.33 Among
the objectives of the Nationalists was, it appears, to
signal the resolve of the Nationalists to the interested
parties, and display their intent not to tolerate
indiscriminate political pressure.34
On 7 August 1919 Rawlinson and his staff left the
Eastern Asia Minor where they have been residing since the
Armistice.35 On 9 August 1919, two Americans arrived in
Erzurum by way of Diyarbakir-Van-Beyazit. Karabekir
indicates that they evaded the question of what they were
hoping to find. Karabekir surmises their mission was "to
determine if the area is suitable for the 'mandate.'"36
What began as a suggestion to the Nationalists to
accept the American Mandate at the time of the Erzurum
Congress, became a major campaign immediately afterwards. By
the time Sivas Congress was convened37, no less than three
channels were working on the Nationalist leadership to
persuade them at least to "consider" the American Mandate,
if not outright adopt a resolution in favor of it at the
Sivas Congress. Even a sample copy, to provide the bases of
such a resolution, was supplied through two of the channels.
On 17 August 1919 a telegram from the III. Army Corps
(Sivas) indicates that one Vasif Bey had forwarded a report
on the American Mandate to Mustafa Kemal. Moreover, Vasif
Bey desired to send two members of the American
Investigative Committee [meaning the King-Crane Commission]
to Erzurum, to discuss the wishes of the people38. Just
about that time, in a cable sent to Karabekir on 23 June,
Mustafa Kemal indicated he was considering the suitability
of Bolshevism for the Movement.39
The second channel was through Ismet Bey [Inn]40 to
Karabekir. On 30 August 1919, a Staff Officer41 had brought
the American Mandate proposals of Izzet Pasha42 by way of
Ismet Bey from Istanbul to Trabzon43. On 4 September 1919,
that Memorandum signed by Izzet Pasha reached Karabekir44.
Ismet Bey sent along a personal letter to Karabekir urging
him and the Representatives at the Erzurum Congress to give
it due thought.45
Efforts were also underway to relay the American
Mandate Memorandum directly to the participants of the Sivas
Congress about to convene, attempting to "go over the heads"
of the Nationalist leadership. Karabekir delayed the
dissemination of the Memorandum, and moreover refrained from
discussing it with anyone. Ismet Bey followed it up several
times, writing even directly to Mustafa Kemal46, who
relayed Ismet Bey's communication to Karabekir on 4 December
1919 with a request that the contents of the American
Mandate Proposal ought not be made available to the
Representative Council [the early nucleus of the TBMM]47.
Ismet Bey wrote again to Karabekir specifically stating he
was aware that the American Mandate Memorandum was in
Karabekir's hands (on the strength of the courier's report
who returned) and Karabekir ought to relay it to the
Representative Council without further delay.48 By way of
proof, Ismet Bey enclosed a telegram and its answer, one of
the addressees and respondents was Mustafa Kemal, who flatly
stated that the Proposal had not arrived.49
Vasif Bey was also attempting to make the existence of
the American Mandate proposal public by disseminating it
more widely. For the purpose, he informed the III. Army
Corps (Sivas) Command that copies were sent to others. News
of these actions reached Karabekir.50 Vasif Bey also
contacted the XX. Army Corps (Ankara) Commander Ali Fuat51,
who was a close friend of Mustafa Kemal. In turn, Ali Fuat
also notified Karabekir of the communication.52 Finally,
Karabekir wrote a terse cable to Ismet Bey, sending a
verbatim copy to the Representative Council, which included
Mustafa Kemal.53 In no uncertain terms, Karabekir
reiterated that the Erzurum and Sivas Congresses constitute
the decisions of the people, therefore ought not to be
evaded. Mustafa Kemal thanked Karabekir, adding he entirely
agreed with Karabekir's position.54 Karabekir notes that
three days later (on 9 January 1920) the Bolsheviks occupied
Odessa and the U. S. vessels in Istanbul received orders to
return stateside.55 In the end, although the Paris Peace
Conference had agreed to a U. S. Mandate, and in
competition, the British continued work to establish a
British Mandate on the same territory, there was to be no
outright mandate as originally envisioned.
It is of interest to raise a question, with several
parts: Who on the U. S. side gathered the necessary
intelligence to link Izzet Pasha-Ismet Bey-Kazim Karabekir
and Ali Fuat with Mustafa Kemal?56 Who managed to obtain a
Memorandum in favor of the American Mandate from Izzet Pasha
and transmitted it to Karabekir? Performance of these tasks
suggests the existence of not only an information gathering
network, but also an operational capability --since Istanbul
was under Allied occupation, and the occupying forces
controlled all governmental functions, especially the
appointments and movements of the Ottoman army officers. As
the U. S. was not an occupying power, how was it that a
memorandum directly opposing the position of the occupying
powers was being relayed through Ottoman channels? Moreover,
because the King-Crane Commission did not leave Istanbul to
investigate, and instead invited a myriad of individuals and
committees to come and present their opinions, the views of
the Nationalists in Asia Minor were not represented before
the King-Crane Commission, except by unsanctioned proxy.57
Although the Harbord Commission made an attempt at least to
see the land, it arrived after most of the cited initiatives
were already completed. Consequently, the Harbord Commission
could not have played a role in getting the American Mandate
Proposal to the Nationalist leadership. It is unlikely that
the King-Crane Commission could have collected and sifted
through the information, identified opportunities, built the
channels and acted (including securing leave of absence and
travel permit for the courier officer), all within two
weeks. So the original question stands: Who was able to perform
all of the foregoing? One possibility, the logical
one, is Admiral Bristol. Although Karabekir does not
specifically record, it appears he, too, maintained contact
with Admiral Bristol by way of unofficial
The Harbord Commission sailed from Brest on the U.S.S.
Martha Washington on 20 August 1919 and arrived in Istanbul
on 2 September. The Harbord Commission report was completed
on 16 October 1919, on board ship.59 In the intervening
period, General Harbord met Mustafa Kemal on 20 September
1919, who informed Karabekir.60 Karabekir not only already
knew of the impending arrival of General Harbord, but was
aware of the composition of his retinue, the types of
questionnaires they carried, the questions they asked others
on the way, and their itinerary.61 General Harbord arrived
in Erzurum on 25 September 1919, was welcomed in the best
tradition and ceremonies by Karabekir and his Staff. Dinner
was served in the Headquarters dining hall, decorated with
U. S. and Turkish flags for the occasion, in accompaniment
to a live trio of piano, violin and flute. Next to each
American officer sat a foreign language speaking member of
Karabekir's Staff. These gestures were not lost on the
visiting delegation. Karabekir also prepared a detailed
report directly addressing the Commission's concerns and
presented it to General Harbord.62 The two men also held
lengthy private talks, apparently speaking French, and
attended plays staged by war orphans being cared for by
Karabekir and the XV. Army Corps (Erzurum).63 Karabekir had
earlier written the plays himself.
The other mandate seekers, with pecuniary and political
ambitions, were not yet prepared to leave the scene. Several
local dignitaries and former officials affiliated with the
occupation government in Istanbul appeared in the Malatya-
Diyarbakir region in the company of Major Noel of the
British Army.64 Intelligence reports started pouring onto
Karabekir's desk.65 A number of the visitors were
specifically sent from Istanbul for the occasion.66 All had
previously held high administrative positions particularly
in Eastern Asia Minor, and reportedly had accepted payments
between one hundred fifty to over two hundred thousand
Pounds Sterling each, and were expending efforts to cause a
"tribal incident" in Eastern Asia Minor.67 Such an
"incident" involving the Kurds would have prepared the
international public opinion for a politically acceptable
occupation and division of all Asia Minor. That would also
have forced the U. S. government to rescind Article 12 of
Wilson's Memorandum, thereby removing from the equation the
Nationalists, who were preventing both the occupation and
the mandate.68 Acting jointly, Commanders of the XIII.
(Diyarbakir), III. (Sivas), and XV. (Erzurum) Corps
concentrated their efforts towards preventing any staged
incident from taking place within their jurisdictions.69
Orders and detachments went out to arrest the named
dignitaries and ex-administrators, who returned hastily to
Istanbul via Aleppo.70 On 6 September 1919, a compilation
of the "Crimes of the Cabinet" in Istanbul was drafted and
sent to the Sivas Congress, followed by a detailed expose of
At that point, Istanbul occupation governments
attempted to consolidate the "troubles" in Asia Minor in the
crucible of "Bolshevism." On 19 September 1919, while the
Harbord Commission was investigating the conditions in Asia
Minor, Prime Minister Damat Ferit gave an interview to a
French wire service, which was duly reported in the Istanbul
papers. Damat Ferit asserted that beginning with the Samsun
and Trabzon regions, Asia Minor was falling into the hands
of the Bolshevik inspired groups. Since Bolshevism was
already understood to be against religion and tradition, the
interview was meant to incite the population against the
"Bolshevik inspired groups" in Asia Minor.72 To counter the
propaganda in kind, Nationalists had appropriately worded
petitions sent directly to the Sultan in Istanbul, with
copies to General Harbord.73 By the beginning of 1920, as
the Bolshevik armies started pushing Denikin's forces South,
this type of public opinion campaigns began proliferating.
They were to reach monumental proportions after the defeat
of Denikin forces became public knowledge.74
Halil and Nuri Pashas75, who were arrested and
imprisoned by the British in Batum, inexplicably managed a
jailbreak. Both individually began private operations in the
Caucasus against the Bolsheviks, continually urging
Karabekir to support them militarily. Karabekir, long
familiar with the pair, remained unconvinced of the
propriety and utility of their activities and argued that
their initiatives were tantamount to adventurism. Having
fought the tsarist Russian armies in the First World War,
Karabekir was not a Russophile. Neither a Russophobe,
Karabekir looked upon the Bolshevik movement as a possible
lever against the occupying Allies who were endeavoring to
physically surround the TBMM movement. He was aware, too,
that the Allies were expending an all out effort to contain
the Bolsheviks north of the Caucasus, and hoped to use the
small independent states of Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia
as a buffer zone between the Russians and the Middle East.
This was also planned by way of another "Mandate," and,
inter alia, the Italians were being encouraged to take this
assignment.76 All three Caucasus states had declared
independence in 1918, and the first two were granted de
facto recognition early in 1920, after Denikin's defeat. All
three sent delegations to the Paris Peace Conference,77 but
not all gained "full accreditation." Karabekir's analysis
indicated that under no circumstances would these three
Republics be able to contain a Bolshevik military advance,
for they lacked not only organization, trained cadres, but
also the population. Therefore, Karabekir thought, only a
political solution could save these three entities.78 He
endeavored to provide any such help that was feasible under
Cognizant of the critical importance of collecting
reliable and continuous information, after consulting with
Rauf Bey80 and Mustafa Kemal, Karabekir sent Doctor Fuat
Sabit to Moscow81. The aim was to maintain close contact
with the intentions and actions of the Bolsheviks. As noted
earlier, Mustafa Kemal was also making demarches concerning
Bolshevism.82 Moreover, Karabekir had established
intelligence links into the Caucasus, at times sending
officers from his command. The information flow is evident
from the contents of the copious circulars Karabekir was
telegraphing to the other Army Corps and the TBMM
Meanwhile, skirmishes between the French colonial
forces and the citizens of Antep, Marash and Adana began.
Later the fighting spread to Urfa and environs. The French
withdrew.83 Contacts with the Italians in the Antalya
region was under observation. The British were attempting to
recruit junior Ottoman army officers, even encouraging them
to desert from Karabekir's Command, for the military units
to be fleshed out by the Caucasians, whose sole aim would be
to fight the Bolsheviks. All publications, domestic or
foreign, were awash with news of Bolshevik military
advances. Concurrently, news of social unrest in the home
countries of the occupying Allied Powers were being touted.
Some were premature, or exaggerated, but the general tenor
was not entirely misleading. The Istanbul government, under
the leadership of Damat Ferit and Ali Kemal, was also
increasing its Bolshevik attributions to the TBMM movement,
to turn the support of the Turkish population away from the
TBMM. For a while, it appeared that the Bolshevik propaganda
had gained the upper hand. The TBMM seriously began
considering this new development.84 The TBMM leadership had
to prepare simultaneously for both war and peace, an
inherently demanding set of circumstances, both against the
internal and external adversaries, in political and military
Once again, Rawlinson appeared in Erzurum, around
February 1920. He and Karabekir paid courtesy visits to each
other. Rawlinson was interested in discovering the extent of
Karabekir's knowledge concerning developments then in
progress in the Caucasus and about the Bolsheviks. Aware of
Rawlinson's communications with the British Istanbul Center
via long and cyphered telegrams, Karabekir simply suggested
that Rawlinson could directly ask Batum (where the British
also maintained a Center) or Istanbul. Next day, Karabekir
received a cable from Sevket Turgut Pasha (at that moment,
the Chief of the Ottoman General Staff of the Occupied
Istanbul government)85 posing basically the same type of
questions put to him by Rawlinson the previous evening.
Karabekir, considering this a new tack, provided an outline
of information generally available.86 During the following few
days Karabekir was sending a much different set of
cyphered telegrams to other Army Corps Commanders and the
Representative Council, providing specific intelligence. In
contrast to the intelligence summaries sent from the
Representative Council in Ankara to Karabekir during those
days, it appears Karabekir's network possessed more reliable
sources, at least pertaining to the East.
Next, Rawlinson began probing Karabekir for a military
operation, encouraging him to reclaim the three Eastern
Ottoman Provinces lost to the tsarists during 1877, and
again in 1914 campaigns.87 In the light of the other
information available to him, Karabekir concluded that the
British no longer had faith in any other means of containing
the Bolsheviks except by the "use" of the TBMM forces. As a
side benefit, Karabekir thought, such an action by the TBMM
would have eliminated the TBMM military resistance to the
occupying powers in Istanbul. As the means of containing
Bolshevism, the transition in Allied thinking from direct
Mandate plans to encouraging the Anti-Bolshevism of TBMM
began. But, this was not entirely obvious to the TBMM.88
The principal TBMM concern was that the TBMM territories
were in danger of being entirely and completely surrounded
by hostile forces, eventually drowning the movement.
Therefore, the TBMM leadership had to consider all
possibilities of preventing that anticipated encirclement.
In that endeavor, the Bolsheviks could be either an ally, or
an adversary. The Bolsheviks could aid the TBMM in breaking
the blockade of the Allies, or, if the TBMM leadership did
not resist, engulf and devour the TBMM themselves in
accordance with earlier tsarist goals and plans.89 In fact,
shortly afterwards, it became clear that the Bolsheviks
merely postponed their overt plans of demanding land90, and
were about to mount a "revolutionary movement" from within
the TBMM territories, preferrably beginning in Ankara91.
For the purpose, a Turkish Communist Party was already
established and became "operational" in Baku. In addition,
during 1920-1921 the Bolshevik government was funding Enver
Pasha in Moscow, who in turn was preparing a secret
organization out of previous CUP personnel to take over the
TBMM movement. The intentions and the direction of the
Bolshevik philosophy and policies was just gaining clarity
in the minds of the TBMM leadership.
For its own part, Moscow was hard at work.92 Lenin
made no secret of his intentions, according to Times
[London] of 16 January 1920, which reached Karabekir on 25
February 1920. The circumstances required immediate sorting
of the information.93 One cable from Rauf Bey, in the
context of reports from Dr. Fuat Sabit, allowed a modicum of
comparison.94 Dr. Fuat's letters provided information on
the Bolshevik leadership's thoughts and pointed to British
plans to form a confederation involving Southern Azerbaijan,
and the portion of Azerbaijan Democratic Republic95, then
independent, previously occupied by the tsarist regime.96
However, that channel was about to outlive its usefulness, if
indeed it ever was of any true help. Dr. Fuat had been
coopted by the Bolsheviks.97
On 16 March 1920, the British forces launched a night-
time attack on Ottoman troops, while they slept, in
Istanbul. The British occupied the Chambers of the recently
elected Representative Assembly (Meclisi Mebusan), the
Ministry of War, and later the telegraph offices. The TBMM
leadership in Ankara had received early warning of the event
a day earlier, "from Italian sources."98 Immediately
afterwards, the Representatives of the Occupying Powers
(signing with that designation only) telegraphed a circular
letter to all provinces, asking the Governors and other
officials in charge to inform the population of a series of
arrests (including the Deputies) and new orders, in
favorable words and report back immediately. Karabekir
ordered that Governors in the XV. Army Corps region should
not answer the cable at all.99 Karabekir also ordered
Rawlinson be taken into protective custody, preferably
within the confines of his residence.100 Rawlinson
voluntarily withdrew the Union Jack he was flying from the
upper floors of his house.101 Rawlinson and Karabekir
exchanged very polite messages, conveying understanding of
the circumstances to each other.102
On 17 March 1920, Karabekir sent additional officers
from his command to Azerbaijan, in order to gather reliable
information on the Bolshevik movements. On the same day,
three Bolsheviks, sent by Lenin to Istanbul seven months
earlier, surfaced in the vicinity of Trabzon. They were on
their way to Batum and had been charged with the duty of
establishing contacts with individuals and political parties
favorable to Bolshevism and to found an organization.103
This Bolshevik Delegation had a list of questions, the
contents of which were cabled to Karabekir. Karabekir
provided answers via the 3rd Division in Trabzon. He also
advised the TBMM leadership in Ankara. In response, Mustafa
Kemal, writing on behalf of the TBMM on 18 March 1920,
cabled his complete agreement with Karabekir's comments to
the said Delegation. Ankara leadership also agreed with
Karabekir's recommendations to convene the TBMM in Ankara,
with the participation of those Representatives who had
escaped British arrest in Istanbul.104 Subsequently it was
learned that Rauf Bey and Vasif Bey were forcibly detained
by the Allies, press and communications censorship tightened
On 23 March 1920, two Bolshevik Inspectors [no names
cited] arrived in the vicinity of Trabzon,106 to rendezvous
with Batum Bolsheviks. One of whom stated he was sent from
Moscow to gather information on the conditions in Batum. An
officer representing Karabekir was also present in the
meeting, by prior arrangement.107 The Bolsheviks provided
information on their strength, conditions in the Caucasus,
their own programs. They appeared to have detailed knowledge
on the activities of Halil and Nuri Pashas. Karabekir sent
an additional set of questions and received answers. The
Inspectors did not possess authority to negotiate but
indicated that they would request a Plenipotentiary from
Moscow for the purpose, and suggested a counterpart be
designated from the Turkish side. In fact a three man
delegation had already been sent to Istanbul some two months
earlier; it was headed by one Can Bey, and included a
colonel and an engineer. Moreover, a person authorized to
speak on the affairs of the Caucasus was about to arrive in
Tbilisi [presumably from Moscow], and he would be invited to
Batum. They also asserted that many German engineers,
officers had joined the Bolsheviks, bringing along their
weapons and industrial plants. The two individuals returned
to Batum on 25 March.108
Karabekir established two more intelligence gathering
points, in Kars and Sarikamis. On 25 March, an armed
skirmish took place between the National Forces [Kuvai
Milliye]109 and the British units in the vicinity of
Izmit.110 On 26 March, a wireless set became operational in
Erzurum, began gathering open news broadcasts by all
parties. Two others were established in Bayazit and Van.111
On 27 March, a French representative resident in Trabzon
provided personal opinions to the Governor of the province,
and requested contact with Karabekir, indicating his
opposition to British policies and promising to work in
favor of the TBMM cause in the Paris Peace Conference.
Karabekir sent word that such matters required the attention
of TBMM in Ankara. Separately, Rawlinson proposed to serve
as a mediator between the TBMM and the British Headquarters
in Istanbul. The suggestion was accepted by the TBMM side,
but rejected by the British Istanbul Headquarters. Those
previous members of the Representative Assembly managing to
break through the Allied blockade began arriving in Ankara.
Among them were author Halide Edib [Adivar]112, President
of the Assembly Celaleddin Arif Bey, as well as Ismet Bey
On 11 April, Artillery Lieutenant Ibrahim Efendi
returned from Baku, after having established contact, as
ordered, with Halil and Nuri Pashas. The letters he carried
were signed "Turkish Communist Party" and with its
abbreviation, TKP. A significant item in the letters was the
request for a Plenipotentiary from the TBMM side, to
coordinate actions with the Bolshevik organizers in Baku,
whose names and duties were also noted.113 Karabekir
relayed the information to TBMM, including its appendix of
organization charts. Next day, Karabekir was notified of the
arrival of another courier, Riza Bey, the Commander of the
7th Regiment, 3rd Division, XV. Army Corps. The letter he
carried was signed Baha Sait114, containing more
information on the Bolsheviks, including the news that the
Plenipotentiary sent by Moscow to Istanbul was on his way
back and arrived in Baku from Istanbul. Baha Sait's letter
was also relayed to Ankara, in cyphered sections. Karabekir
saw the need to pose a question to Mustafa Kemal: "...In his
letter, Baha Sait often refers to an Agreement signed in your
name115 in Istanbul, and handed to the Bolshevik
Plenipotentiary. I surmise this is the agreement relayed to
you by Rauf Bey [Orbay]. A copy of it shall be
The next day, Karabekir sent a longer cable to Mustafa
Kemal, providing comments: "...it seems plausible that the
said Agreement may have been seen by a Delegation of the
Istanbul Government [membership in which is] as yet unknown
to us....Baha Sabit Bey's Chief of Staff is a Russian....the
declaration made by the Istanbul Government following their
occupation [of the Meclisi Mebusan] and related threats, to
the Provincial Governors in the said circular to prevent any
cooperation with the Bolsheviks, indicate Istanbul's
[Allies'] awareness of this Agreement....Yusuf Ziya Bey
arrived from Baku with [an unspecified amount of] money,
went to Oltu. He attempted activities which he tried to keep
secret from me [he and apparently TKP acting on its
own]....Bolsheviks requesting our military intervention by
the XV. Army Corps in the Caucasus during the winter months
require careful evaluation...."117
Mustafa Kemal responded with a short cable, requesting
that Karabekir establish contacts with the Bolsheviks at the
earliest possible time, noting the Ankara group was aware
and appreciative of all previous demarches made by
Karabekir. Karabekir wrote back a long answer, first
outlining the background of all past contacts with the
Bolsheviks through his command, adding his analysis of what
the Bolsheviks are trying to do against his forces and his
precautions. Since "....Halil and Nuri Pashas no longer
constitute a viable channel, it is imperative that a TBMM
Plenipotentiary be sent to Moscow without delay to establish
direct contact..."118 On 15 April 1920, Mustafa Kemal
cabled the following: "I reiterate, the Agreement referenced
by Baha Sabit Bey, was not signed by me. Copy of the said
document follows." The "Agreement" in question stated that
it has been contracted between the Usak Congress and the
"Karakol Cemiyeti"119 on one side, both of whom
representing the Turkish Revolution, and the [unnamed]
Caucasus Plenipotentiary of the Ishtirakiyun [Social
Democrat] Party Central Committee, acting on behalf of the
People's Commissars of the Rusya Mttehit Sovyetler
Cumhuriyeti [Russian Soviet Federated Republic]. It further
stated that Baha Sait Bey was signatory on behalf of the
Usak Congress and the Karakol Cemiyeti, as their
Plenipotentiary accredited to Caucasus. Signed on 11 January
1920 in Baku.120
Mustafa Kemal followed up with another cable, with two
supplements. "The said Agreement was sent for signature by
Kara Vasif Bey.121 Following are the answers I sent in
response to that proposal, and the [separate] letter I wrote
to Rauf Bey. I absolutely did not sign [the Agreement]. Baha
Sait Bey is constructing falsehoods. If Kara Vasif Bey had
signed it on behalf of the Karakol Cemiyeti without our
knowledge, we repudiate it. As we shall not undertake any action
in that regard without your knowledge, participation
and agreement....you may refute it [in any strength] as you
think necessary..."122 Karabekir surmised that Baha Sait's
position was weakened when the local Bolsheviks in the
Caucasus realized that TBMM side was in high level contacts
with the Bolsheviks through Dr. Fuat and Halil Pasha, and
that Baha Sait was not representing the TBMM. Baha Sait thus
endeavored to regain credibility by engineering such an
Agreement and that may be the reason behind the Bolshevik
requests for a TBMM Plenipotentiary. Karabekir apparently
was partially correct, since the Karakol Cemiyeti was being
funded by the Bolsheviks through Enver Pasha; quite apart
from the TKP. After that evaluation, Karabekir sent two
cables to the Representative Council in Ankara on 18 April
1920. The first was in response to the cable of 15 April,
proposing the specific personnel to constitute the advance
military delegation being sent to Baku, to be later followed
by the full Commission. The second telegram outlined the
instructions to the military delegation Karabekir proposed
to send. As no response was forthcoming from Ankara,
Karabekir dryly notes that he repeated the cables on the
22nd, 23rd, and 26th, finally receiving answers on the 27th
TBMM was officially convened for the first time on 23
April 1920.124 After the installation of Mustafa Kemal as
TBMM Chairman, Karabekir implies that his primary political
objectives were accomplished.125 However, the Bolshevik
issue was gaining momentum and importance. On 15 April 1920,
Karabekir circulated a declaration addressed to "everywhere,
including Istanbul" containing a synopsis of all available
information on prevailing conditions within Bolshevik
occupied territories and lands adjacent. The declaration
contained specific section headings on the Tatars, Kirghiz,
Bashkurt, Sart, Turkmen and Yomut126 as a part of the
overall analysis. In due course, Karabekir even mentions
Zeki Velidi [Togan] by name among leaders of the National
Liberation Movements in that region.127 Karabekir also
urged Mustafa Kemal, as Chairman of the TBMM, to broadcast a
Declaration on TBMM relations, expected or actual, with "the
servants of the Istanbul Government" as well as with the
On 26 April 1920, the response desired by Karabekir
arrived129. TBMM approved his plan that a military
delegation to be sent to Baku, and the contents of the
communication they were to carry. TBMM officially was asking
for money from the Moscow government.130 Karabekir added a
separate questionnaire to be answered by the Bolshevik side,
and a letter to the Turkish Communist Party in Baku. Before
the designated delegation could leave, the news of Red
Army's occupation of Baku on 28 April 1920 arrived. The
travelling route through Batum was now closed. A second
venue through Nakchevan was established and new letters had
to be written; they were sent on 5 May. The Istanbul
government was beginning to increase the pressure on the
civilian bureaucracy through fresh appointments from
Istanbul, to displace those Prefercts and Governors loyal to
TBMM. Apparently, not all of the Istanbul appointees
actually tried hard to take up their appointments within the
TBMM territories, but the TBMM was not at ease and
endeavored to counter all such initiatives. Karabekir also
suggested the publication of a foreign language newspaper
for distribution abroad.131 There were also the usual
frictions among colleagues and friends that take place
during highly-charged times.132
As a means of countering increasing propaganda from
Istanbul, TBMM sent a congratulatory cable to the recently
established Orenburg Government for distribution in the
"East," on 29 April 1920, along with a new Declaration of
the TBMM.133 The telegraphers, to whom the TBMM movement
owed an immense debt, founded the Association of
Professional Telegraphers in Defense of the Motherland, and
informed Karabekir. Acutely aware of their inestimable
contribution to the Independence Movement efforts, Karabekir
heartily congratulated the membership of this new society
(perhaps the first professional association in the TBMM era)
via an open letter published in the (probably the Albayrak
in Erzurum),134 local paper.135
On 2 May 1920, TBMM announced the establishment of its
standing executive committee, the Council of Ministers. The
monetary crisis in Ankara forced Mustafa Kemal on 3 May 1920
to ask Karabekir to request funds from the Azerbaijan
government.136 On 5 May, as noted above, not knowing how
the newly Bolshevik Azerbaijan government was going to
react, and having lost the Batum channel, Karabekir opened
another via Bayazit and Oltu. A new letter was sent to the
Turkish Communist Party in Baku. Simultaneously, Karabekir
wrote to TBMM, urging them not to delay the decision on
sending a Plenipotentiary to Moscow. Meanwhile, Peace
Conference deliberations were continually being discussed by
the daily media in Europe, drawing ever changing lines of
influence by various powers on the map.137 Istanbul
government was also assigning new Extraordinary Inspectors
for Asia Minor, but the appointees were rarely leaving
Istanbul. Also, attempts were being made to establish quasi-military units loyal to the Istanbul government to fight the
TBMM forces. Fighting between the invading Bolshevik armies
and the Georgian, Armenian and Azerbaijan forces was
continuing while the TBMM borders in the East began to be
violated. There were disagreements between the TBMM
leadership and Karabekir as to how best to deal with these
conditions. Politics, internal and external, began to clash
with military strategy among the TBMM leadership, as the
Bolshevik armies proceeded bloodily to occupy Caucasian
territories. Karabekir continually circulated the latest
intelligence available on the developing conditions.138
On 25 May 1920, the TBMM Delegation to Moscow,
comprising Bekir Sami (Minister of Foreign Affairs), Yusuf
Kemal Bey (Minister of Economy), and three staff members,
arrived in Erzurum. On the 27th, Karabekir read the
instructions given to this Plenipotentiary Delegation, dated
8 May, and discussed its provisions with the Ministers.139
On 30 May 1920, Karabekir warned TBMM that San Remo
Conference140 was bankrupt, therefore armed struggle might
become the only available venue to assure independence.141
On 6 June 1920, in the face of approaching Bolshevik armies,
TBMM ordered Karabekir to reclaim Elviyei Selasiye (the
Ottoman administrative term for the territories lost to
tsarists during 1877 and 1914 campaigns), which were
restored to the Ottomans by the Brest-Litovsk treaty of 3
March 1918. Mobilization orders went out. On 15 June 1920,
the courier officer, Artillery Lieutenant Ibrahim Efendi
arrived from Moscow. This Lieutenant had conveyed the first
TBMM Declaration to Moscow, now was bringing a letter from
the Soviet Foreign Affairs Commissar Chicherin (dated 3 June
1920), addressed to the Chairman of TBMM. Upon reading the
letter, Karabekir concluded that Bolsheviks, too, wanted to
detach land from the TBMM. There were also letters from
Doctor Fuat Sabit Bey (now signing as the Representative of
the Baku Turk Communist Party), Bahaddin Sakir Bey, Ahmet
Cemal Pasha142 and Halil Pasha, who were all in Moscow.143
On 23 June 1920 Karabekir wrote to the Red Army Commander in
Baku, asking for facilitation of safe passage of the TBMM
According to orders of TBMM, Karabekir's XV. Army Corps
began the re-possession maneuvers. Immediately afterwards, a
series of elliptical cables from Ankara told Karabekir to
pause and consider the Bolshevik proposal of establishing a
"Caucasus Federation." On 27 June 1920 the TBMM Delegation
left Erzurum for Moscow. Next day, another courier was sent
from Trabzon to Moscow, via Tuapse. Destitute refugees began
streaming into TBMM territories from the East, fleeing the
Bolsheviks of all types while the XV. Army Corps
reconnaissance patrols come under fire. During the night of
9/10 July, the TBMM Delegation finally left TBMM territories
aboard a motorboat, from Trabzon to Tuapse. They sent their
first wireless message from Moscow informing Karabekir of
their arrival on the 19th, by a special train sent to
collect them from Tuapse, which they boarded on the
12th.145 On 5 July 1920 Rawlinson volunteered to be
exchanged for the detainees in Malta. Karabekir passed the
message on to Ankara, and the proposal was eventually
carried out. It is interesting that Rawlinson, under house
arrest and surveillance, knew of the developments in
Karabekir notes that earlier he had sent a delegation
led by the Commander of the 12th Infantry Division, Lt. Col.
Resat Bey, to contact the Red Army. Information pertaining
to the troop movements of the Red Army being deployed in
Nakchevan now began arriving. This news was disturbing to
the civil population in Erzurum, who had no particular
affinity toward the Bolsheviks. Karabekir had to assure the
local civilian leadership that TBMM had no intention of
becoming Bolshevik, but had to establish contact with them
and even seek their material help. The officers thus sent
from the XV. Army Corps removed their Ottoman style gold
braid epaulets, sensitive to the hostility of the Bolshevik
side to such decorations. Karabekir immediately redesigned
the entire slate of rank insignia for the XV. Army Corps, to
prevent both Bolshevik contamination and confusion with the
old Ottoman army, and informed Ankara.
On 27 July 1920, two officers arrived from Northern
Caucasus and provided a report.147 Despite the written
guarantees given to the Northern Caucasus populations by the
Bolsheviks, those promises were not being kept. On 2 August
1920, Prefect of Zor, comrade Salih Zeki (in the company of
comrade Nureddin) visited Karabekir at his field
Headquarters. The two comrades made a case for a Bolshevik
TBMM, asserted the existence of Bolshevik organizations in
Asia Minor. They planned to visit Ankara to argue their
position. Despite Karabekir's best efforts, Bolshevik
propaganda was taking root, even in Erzurum, which centered
around the proposed establishment of various "peoples
governments."148 On 3 August, Karabekir issued an order to
his officers, forbidding low level contacts with the Baku
Turkish Communist Party officials. On the 4th, Karabekir
circulated a more comprehensive declaration to his entire
command, with detailed information on the political and
military conditions. Mustafa Subhi asked and obtained
permission to visit TBMM in Ankara.149
On 5 August 1920, a telephone message arrived from
Halil Pasha, indicating the shipment from Moscow to Ankara
of 500kg of gold in six crates, a complete wireless
telegraph station capable of instituting direct
communications between Moscow and Ankara. In addition, two
"Muslim Staff Officers" of the Red Army and the First
Secretary of the Bolshevik Embassy to Ankara were
accompanying Halil Pasha. Signing as "Comrade Halil," he
further indicated the planned shipment of munitions. On 7
August, General Staff of the Red Army provided order of
battle information to Karabekir. "Comrade Halil" supplied
political intelligence on 8 August, the contents of which
were passed on to TBMM.150
Karabekir notes that a delegation was requested from
his region, to attend the Bolshevik Congress in Baku.151
Karabekir added two of his officers to the group, to observe
the conditions. Some of the participating civilians were
apprehensive. Karabekir lectured the delegation, assuring
them the TBMM leadership intention was not to adoption of
Bolshevism, however it had to be taken into account and
studied. Thus it was their duty to learn, not to be caught
unawares. Another cypher from "Comrade Halil" indicated a
larger sum of gold was scheduled to arrive in the company of
the Bolshevik Ambassador. There was also another letter from
Cemal Pasha to Mustafa Kemal.152 On 15 August 1920, another
courier officer, Lieutenant Serif Efendi, arrived from Baku.
He had had interviews with the 11th Red Army Commander
Levandovksi on 9 July 1920, Ordjonikidze on 17 July 1920,
the Azerbaijan War Commissar Ali Haydar Karayev, Head of the
Turkish Social Democrat Organization [sic] Mustafa Subhi,
and Turkistan Deputy Minister of War, Emirhanov.
On 27 August 1920, the Embassy of the Soviet government
arrived in Karakose, in the company of Halil Pasha.153 On 3
September 1920. TBMM Chief of Staff Ismet Bey informed the
XV. Army Corps that TBMM was considering a move to Sivas due
to the Western Front [i. e. Greek Armies] moving closer East
and its anticipated effects on Ankara. Karabekir disagreed,
regarding such a move as a display of weakness.154 On the
same day, another cable from TBMM General Staff, signed by
Ismet Bey stated "The arriving Russian delegation exhibits
the signs of an intelligence and administrative control
organ charged with the duty of organizing the country for
revolution, rather than a Diplomatic Embassy. It is
unacceptable and unexplainable that they have left telegraph
equipment and personnel in Bayazit....The English and
Germans had acted similarly, established direct and
independent communication links [with their superiors] upon
setting foot in our country....It is apparent from the 2
September 1920 decision of the Heyeti Vekile (Executive
Committee, or, the Cabinet of the TBMM) there is a movement
to effect a communist revolution, enslave and turn the
country over to the Bolshevik objectives...."155
On the same day another courier officer [Kamil Efendi]
arrived from Moscow. He reported having been thoroughly
examined in Tuapse by the Russians, the nature of whose
questions betrayed the intentions and thoughts of his
interrogators. This officer's cyphers [implied to be sent
from Tuapse] required four days to reach the TBMM
Plenipotentiary in Moscow. He was later confronted by an
individual named Mustafa Nafi, who earlier held privileges
in Istanbul,156 claiming to be a true communist, "unlike
Mustafa Subhi." He now carried a map on which the Bolshevik
flag was depicted over Istanbul, and expressed his wish to
plant the communist flag on St. Sophia personally. He
further asserted he was a Turkish language instructor at the
Red Army Communist Staff and Command School. Kamil Efendi
observed the presence in Moscow literally hundreds of
individuals claiming to represent "Turkiye." The courier
officer also learned that the guards posted in front of the
building to which the TBMM Plenipotentiary Delegation was
assigned were ordered not to reveal anyone the identities or
affiliations of the individuals staying in the building. No
one was to see the TBMM Delegation except by special permit.
Enver Pasha arrived in Moscow, held talks with Lenin, and
Lt. Kamil Efendi secured an audience with Enver Pasha [who
also met with the TBMM Plenipotentiary Delegation in
Moscow], who spoke at length of saving the "country." Kamil
Efendi's final comments pertained to the extreme scarcity of
food in Moscow, and the meagerness of the rations provided
even to the Plenipotentiary Delegation, which consisted of a
loaf of bread, tea, "cabbage soup" and corn gruel.157
After reading this report, Karabekir wrote a letter to
Enver Pasha and sent it via a courier officer, reminding him
of their earlier friendship, asking him to refrain from
adventurism under any guise.158 Karabekir adds a personal
observation: "Every individual, especially those holding
responsible positions, ought to consider the nature and
origin of all ideas prior to acting on them. Otherwise they
should know they will cause harm to their nations."159
On 7 September 1920 the Bolshevik Embassy Delegation
was invited to the plays staged by the War Orphans cared for
by the XV. Army Corps. Among the Delegation members were the
First Secretary Opmal and the Military Attache Bakirof, who
is reported by Karabekir to be a Turk. Opmal asserted the
need for the Turkish Communist Party to act openly and
freely to convince Moscow that TBMM is actively anti-
imperialist. By means of examples, Opmal painted a picture
of government-owned means of production and command economy.
Simultaneously, Bolshevik propaganda began its assault on
the XV. Army Corps personnel.160 Next day, the shipment of
gold arriving from Moscow reached Erzurum, where 200kg of
which was retained by the XV. Army Corps. The remainder was
forwarded to Ankara.
On 20 September 1920, Mustafa Kemal instructed
Karabekir to establish contact with the Georgians, and begin
reclaiming the territories lost to the Russians during 1877
and again in 1914. Having prepared for the occasion
previously, Karabekir moved his headquarters out of Erzurum.
Domestic intrigues once again required immediate attention,
in this instance, in Erzurum itself. Karabekir had to rush
back and investigate. This time it proved to be an easily
soluble problem. After a series of personnel reassignments,
Karabekir invited the 3rd Division (Trabzon) Commander Col.
Rst Bey to become the Acting Commander, XV. Army Corps,
while he himself was Commanding the Eastern Front. Karabekir
asked Col. Rst Bey to transport the one million gold
rubles brought from Moscow by Lieutenant Ibrahim Efendi,
from Trabzon to Erzurum. On 7 October, Karabekir returned to
his field headquarters at the front. On 30 October,
Karabekir entered Kars and found there an officer reporting
to Admiral Bristol.161 On 3 November 1920 the Bolshevik
Plenipotentiary [a Georgian, later Ambassador to TBMM]
Mdivani162, indicating he has received a cable from the
Commissar of Foreign Affairs, asked Karabekir whether the
Mutual Friendship Treaty arrived, and when the Bolshevik
side could expect a TBMM Delegation. In response, Karabekir
cabled that Treaty had been received. Yusuf Kemal Bey had
returned to Ankara and information on the Delegation would
be forwarded. On 21 November 1920 TBMM Acting Foreign
Minister Ahmet Muhtar163 wrote to Karabekir, asking him to
establish contact with the TBMM Plenipotentiary Bekir Sami
Bey in Moscow to determine if Bekir Sami was in receipt of
the telegrams sent from Ankara. On 16 November [sic], Bekir
Sami Bey arrived in Kars from Baku.164 Four days later
General Ali Fuat and Staff Officer Major Saffet Bey reached Kars.
They were appointed by TBMM Ambassador and Military
Attache, respectively, to Moscow.165
On 11 December, the Turkish communists Mustafa Subhi
and Ethem Nejat paid a visit to Karabekir. They outlined
their plan to travel to Ankara with their retinue, via
Tbilisi [sic], because they feared a plot against their
lives in Erzurum [sic]. Karabekir suggested they journey via
Erzurum to Ankara, because gossip to the effect they were
going to conduct Bolshevik propaganda had begun. They agreed
and left altogether. They did not arrive at their proposed
On 16 December, the TBMM Embassy Delegation left for
Moscow167 by train via Kars, Tbilisi and Baku, after
conferring with Karabekir on the 15th.168 On 22 December
1920, Mdivani, the Bolshevik Ambassador left by train for
Ankara via Erzurum. Karabekir observed that, during his 24
days in Kars, Mdivani worked to establish secret Bolshevik
organizations in the vicinity, including and especially in
the Malakite villages, and managed the affairs of the
Mustafa Subhi group.
On 2 February 1921, Mrs. Hertz, working in an American
Relief institution in Kars, visited Karabekir.169 She
reported that Admiral Bristol had requested, by letter, she
learn the actual conditions on the ground from an
authoritative source. Mrs. Hertz asked Karabekir if he could
relay her letter to Admiral Bristol. Karabekir agreed, but
personally censored the information pertaining to his own
troop strength (by way of cutting the component Division
identification numbers of the XV. Army Corps out of the
letter handed him unsealed).170 On 16 February, TBMM
Tbilisi Representative Kazim Bey sent a long cypher to
Karabekir concerning the fighting between the Georgians,
Armenians and Russians, while the Georgian General Staff
informed Karabekir of their own conditions and plans.
Karabekir observed that this still was the continuation of
earlier Bolshevik efforts to draw the XV. Army Corps to the
East, and have the TBMM participate in a "Caucasian
Confederation." The primary aim of the related invitation
was to involve the TBMM forces under Karabekir's command in
the ongoing fighting, to cause attrition, to reduce its
fighting capacity and morale. That, in turn, the Bolsheviks
hoped, would make the TBMM leadership more malleable to the
Bolshevik demands.171 The "lure" used by the Bolsheviks, of
course, was that TBMM was going to "acquire more land."
Perhaps the Bolsheviks chose to ignore the "National Pact"
drawn at the Erzurum Congress delineating the TBMM National
Borders, which did not include Caucasia but stopped at
"Elviyei Selasiye."172 It appears that the value of the XV.
Corps, as a unit, was even higher by simply remaining
stationary. However, the officers and the Staff of the XV.
Corps were by no means idle. Karabekir warned the
appropriate authorities in Karakilise and Yerevan that he
wished to receive reports directly from his Liaison
Officers, Tevfik Efendi and Captain Bahattin Efendi,
respectively.173 The reports arrived.
Three Liaison Officers from the Red Army arrived in
Karabekir's headquarters on 1 March 1921, "bringing the
regards of the Red Army to the XV. Army Corps." On 9 March,
Karabekir received an urgent order from Ankara to occupy
Batum and environs. The same day, Keker, the Red Army
Commander in Tbilisi, sent his congratulations to Karabekir
on the occasion! It appeared that the TBMM Foreign Ministry
and the General Staff had not coordinated their actions,
leaving Karabekir to sort out the tangled affairs related to
the occupation of Batum by TBMM troops. A long cyphered
cable flowed from Karabekir to the General Staff.174 With
the Menshevik Georgians leaving Batum, the Mdivani brothers'
era in Ankara came to an end. On 18 March 1921, Orjonikidze
wrote to Karabekir, asking him to evacuate Batum. Two days
later the TBMM Delegation in Moscow sent a cypher announcing
the signing of the Friendship Treaty. Karabekir ordered his
troops be withdrawn from Batum. The border between the TBMM
and the Bolsheviks was taking shape.
On 21 March 1921, a letter from Col. Ibrahim Tali
[during the First World War, Commander of Karabekir's
Medical units] arrived.175 On 27 March 1921, TBMM ratified
the Moscow Treaty.176 The TBMM designation as an
appellation was taking a firm hold.
Keker, Commander of the 11th Red Army in Caucasus,
requested a meeting with Karabekir. They agreed to meet in
Gmr. Keker turned out to be 34 years of age, Russian,
nervous, and a chain smoker. He was in the continuous and
ever present company of two Commissars, a Russian and a
Georgian. Karabekir notes that Keker was especially
resentful of the Russian Commissar. Keker also insistently
requested that Karabekir evacuate Gmr, not always
successfully veiling his implied threats.177 Karabekir
agreed to contact Ankara for permission. Before a response
was received from Ankara, Keker cabled, using crass
language, setting deadlines. Karabekir was also aware of
Chicherin's harsh words to the TBMM Ambassador Ali Fuat
[Cebesoy]. Furthermore, on 21 April 1921 Bolsheviks forcibly
entered the TBMM Embassy facilities in Moscow, ransacking
office files, beating embassy personnel.178 Therefore,
Karabekir ordered his units to go on alert. Finally, TBMM
ordered Karabekir to evacuate the region in one week.
Karabekir informed Keker, relaying his regrets for Keker's
foul words. On 29 April 1921, Yusuf Kemal Bey, a member of
the TBMM Plenipotentiary Delegation arrived in Kars from
Moscow, in the company of four million gold rubles, on his
way to Ankara.
Karabekir began to redirect his attention to the
detention of spies and provocateurs in his territory. Once
again refugees began to pour into TBMM lands, this time from
Armenia, where fighting between various factions of
Armenians, Georgians and Russians was continuing. Bolshevik
propaganda was also reaching a crescendo. The Ankara
government established a new department to enlighten the
population and counter Bolshevik efforts. Enver and other
CUP leaders were also beginning to make plans to return and
play a role in the TBMM movement. Dr. Riza Nur179 sent
voluminous reports and analyses on the political conditions,
with which Karabekir disagreed on the basis of his own
intelligence information.180 A copy of the Bolshevik
Ambassador Mdivani's briefing to the Revkom (Revolutionary
Committee) also arrived. Karabekir did not place much import
on this text, skeptical of its authenticity since it was
purchased from the Menshevik Georgians by Hsamettin Bey,
the TBMM Tbilisi Representative. Nonetheless he recorded the
text, in which Mdivani suggested "...dictating Bolshevik
objectives to the peoples of the East via the control of the
TBMM mechanism....therefore no sacrifice is too great on the
part of Moscow to realize this plan..."181
Conditions in the Eastern territories of the TBMM were
gradually being transformed from war-time military
operations into peace-time politics. New Societies of all
types were being organized daily. Karabekir hinted at his
desire to become the Civilian Governor General of the
territory, devastated in terms of economics and
infrastructure, to continue to serve in the region which he
came to love. TBMM was reluctant, at least silent on the
matter. Fighting on the Western Front was reaching a climax.
Karabekir began transferring munitions and troops to the
Western Front, wher they were to play crucial role in later
On 20 September 1921, a Bolshevik Delegation brought
the ratified Moscow [friendship] Treaty to Kars, which was
greeted with military honors. The ratified TBMM copy was
also at hand, having been sent from Ankara. On 22 September,
copies were exchanged with due ceremonies. Now, the Ankara
government directed Karabekir to sign the Kars Treaty as the
Lead TBMM Plenipotentiary. On 26 September 1921 the
Bolshevik Plenipotentiary Delegation charged to participate
in the Kars Treaty arrived. The work of the Conference
lasted until 10 October 1921 when the Kars Treaty was
signed. Recovery of the lands lost to tsarists in 1877 and
1914 was completed by Karabekir and the TBMM-Bolshevik
border formally recognized.182 The Turkish War of
Independence formally continued until the ratification of
the Lausanne Treaty. The British troops, the last of the
occupying forces, saluted the Turkish flag and evacuated
Istanbul on 2 October 1923.
The Russians seemed content with the Kars Treaty and
the related arrangements until the Second World War. The day
after the 1945 San Francisco Treaty was signed by some fifty
states (the founding document for the United Nations),183
including the Turkish Republic and the USSR, the USSR
demanded land from the Turkish Republic, precisely in the
same region covered by the Kars Treaty.184 The Soviet
demands finally prompted the Truman Doctrine, a military aid
program to the Turkish Republic and Greece proposed to the
U. S. Congress on 12 March 1947. Military Aid and
Cooperation agreement between the Turkish Republic and the
U. S. was ratified by the Ankara government on 1 September
1947, which is still in force as amended --apart from a
multitude of additional secret protocols over time-- but
suspended for a period beginning in 1975 over the dispute
regarding joint treaty obligations concerning Cyprus.
Turkish Republic was also a beneficiary of the Marshall
Plan. When Mustafa Kemal Ataturk died at the age of 57
during 1938, Ismet Inonu became the Turkish President.185
The full rapprochement of the Turkish Republic with the
British, French and the Italians came with the onset of the
Second World War, when the Allies sought to involve the
Turkish Republic against Germany. Inonu kept the Turkish
Republic out of the World War186 and remained in office
until his Republican People's Party (CHP) was voted out in
As a Charter Member of the U. N., the Turkish Republic
sent troops to join the U. N. Command in Korea from June
1950 and her admission into NATO followed on 18 February
1952. Turkish membership in the U. S. led CENTO and RCD
treaties rounded out the political and strategic agreements
in the region, in line with the U. S. "Containment Policy"
aimed at the Soviet Union. Ismet Inonu was the Prime
Minister of the Turkish Republic, to whom President Johnson
wrote his Letter of 5 June 1964, related to the Cyprus
issue.187 That event was also a turning point in the
Turkish Republic and USSR economic and diplomatic relations.
Accounts of the circumstances encompassing the terrorism
waves in the Turkish Republic during the 1970s, its external
origins, sources and economic implications, began to emerge
on the heels of the 1980 military coup, the third in as many
Author's Note: An earlier version was read to the conference
on Soviet And American Relations with Turkey, Iran, and Afghanistan: Advances and Setbacks, during 1990, organized by the
Middle East Studies Center, at Ohio State University. Thanks go to Alam Payind, Stephen Dale,
1. Epigraph. Kazim Karabekir, Istiklal Harbimiz. (Istanbul,
2. For a broader treatment of the topic, and sources, see H.
B. Paksoy, "'Basmachi:' The Turkistan National Liberation
Movement," Modern Encyclopedia of Religions in Russia and
Soviet Union (Academic Press, 1992). Vol. 5.
3. According to the generally accepted chronology, the
Turkish War of Independence began on 19 May 1919, when
Mustafa Kemal, as the Inspector General of the 9th Army,
disembarked at Samsun. Approximately a month earlier,
General Kazim Karabekir had already assumed the Command of
the XV. Corps in Erzurum. Prior to leaving Istanbul,
Karabekir notes, he had called on Mustafa Kemal and outlined
his own plan for the forthcoming Independence Struggle.
According to his account, Karabekir invited Mustafa Kemal to
join him in Erzurum at that meeting.
4. Which the British worked earlier so hard to keep intact,
as a buffer between the tsarist empire and the Middle East.
5. The TBMM (Turkiye Buyuk Millet Meclisi) formally convened
for the first time on 23 April 1920, in Ankara, following
the Erzurum and Sivas Congresses. See Kazim Ozturk,
Ataturk'n TBMM Aik ve Gizli Oturumlarindaki Konusmalari
(Ankara, 1981). Though a portion of the events referenced in
this paper predate that official mark (from April-May 1919),
the TBMM designation is utilized throughout to encompass
efforts and personnel which were integral to the movement.
In keeping with the terminology utilized by the sources, I
also made use of "Representative Council" ("Heyeti
Vekiliye," roots of which are in the Erzurum and Sivas
Congresses) and "Nationalists," ("Kuvai Milliye," and
various "Mudafaai Hukuk Cemiyetleri") interchangeably.
Even on 27 August 1920, when Karabekir himself
cautioned Ankara (including Mustafa Kemal) on this matter,
that no official appellation was yet adopted by the movement.
Consequently, the government in Ankara was being called,
inter alia, the "Ottoman Government" by foreign powers. See
Karabekir, 863. Turkish Republic was announced on 29 October
1923, new Constitution enacted during 1924.
6. Karabekir's references to his own past are limited to his
official correspondence and actions, avoiding virtually any
mention of his private life. It is possible that Karabekir
kept a personal journal. For glimpses of his private life,
see the introduction by Tahsin Demiray to Karabekir's
Istiklal Harbimiz (Istanbul, 1960). Also, to the anonymous
introduction to Karabekir's Dogunun Kurtulusu (Erzurum:
Erzurum Ticaret ve Sanayi Odasi Arastirma, Gelistirme ve
Yardimlasma Vakfi Yayinlari, 1990). N. kse, Turk Istiklal
Harbi'ne Katilan Tumen ve Daha Ust Kademelerdeki
Komutanlarin Biyografileri (Ankara, 1989) was unavailable to
me at this writing.
7. See H. N. Howard, The King-Crane Commission. (Beirut,
8. At the time, Rear Admiral Mark L. Bristol was the Senior
US Naval Officer at Istanbul, later becoming the US High
Commissioner. A hospital named after him is still
operational in Istanbul.
9. See Major General James G. Harbord (USA), Report Dated 16
October 1919, in American Association for International
Conciliation. No. 151, (June 1920). Pp. 275-302.
10. Army Corps were generally composed of three Divisions.
The XV. Army Corps (Erzurum) contained four (for a total of
approximately 18,000 men), possibly because the Division in
Trabzon was separated from its original command structure
due to war conditions, attached, ad interim, to the XV.
Corps, and remained a component for the duration. Related
events are recounted in Fevzi akmak's memoirs, who
commanded Armies in the region during the First World War.
Fevzi Pasha was Minister of War in Istanbul prior to the
Allied occupation, joined the TBMM during late April 1920.
11. Throughout this period, the calendar in use was "Mali,"
the "day of year" portion of which had been officially
ajdusted on 1 March 1917 to coincide with the Gregorian
style by the Istanbul Government. The TBMM Government
completed the transition by additional measures in 1925 and
1935, such as the division of the day into standard 24 hours
(as opposed to the practice of timing by local solar time)
and moving the holiday to Sunday. The names of the months
were changed to Turkish during 1945.
Since the sources generally do not mention the basic
form (Mali or Gregorian) of their chronology, and on
occasion provide an "hybrid" form of "dating" (which may
have been instituted by later date publishers) I converted
only the year portions of cited dates into Gregorian style
for convenience. For the desired degree of conversion
precision, concerning specific dates, see F. R. Unat, Hicri
Tarihleri Miladi Tarihe evirme Kilavuzu (Ankara, 1974).
12. This paper pursues the topic from the least studies set
of sources, the TBMM perspective. Given the number of
political entities involved in the events, a complete
bibliography on the topic would not only fill a volume, but
would have to encompass entries in a dozen or more
languages. However, there are numerous works on specific
subjects. Therefore, what follows is a set of references
covering the principal outline of the subject matter
(excluding most of the works cited in the footnotes to this
paper), majority of which contain very useful bibliographies
Treaty texts concerning this era may be found in the
archives and published documents of the U. S. Department of
State, for example Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations
of the United States for the years 1919, 1920, 1921. The
French copies are generally available in the Documents
diplomatiques series. British documents are probably the
most extensive, spread throughout governmental departments,
inter alia, HMSO, FO, Command, Cabinet Papers series for the
indicated period. Turkish documents are the latest additions
to the list. See [issuing body] Genelkurmay Baskanligi, Harp
Tarihi Dairesi Turk Istiklal Harbi (6 Vols.) (Ankara, 1962-
1968). Previously [Issuing Body] Erkaniharbiye-i Umumiye
Harp Tarihi Klliyati (series) Cihan Harbinde Osmanli
Harekati Tarihesi (1922) was printed. All must be utilized
with the assumption that these are documents of the
"results" and not necessarily the "process" by which they
were attained. Moreover, not all documents may have been
included in the collections, due to various considerations.
See also J. C. Hurewitz, Diplomacy in the Near and Middle
East. A Documentary Record. (NY, 1956). (Two Vols.); Mahmut
Gologlu, Milli Mcadele Tarihi, 5 Vols., (Ankara, 1968-
1971); Y. H. Bayur, Turk Inkilabi Tarihi (Ankara, 1940-1967)
Three Vols.; A. B. Kuran, Inkilap Tarihimiz ve Jon Turkler
E. E. Adamov's (Ed.) Razdel Aziatskoi Turstsii
[Partition of Asiatic Turkey]. (Moscow, 1924) is based on
the papers of the tsarist Foreign Ministry, when the
Bolsheviks were eager to be seen as completely breaking with
the tsarist mold. This work was translated into Turkish by
Staff Officer Lt. Col. Babaeskili Hseyin Rahmi in Amiens-
France and published as Anadolunun Taksim Plani (Istanbul,
1926). A Second Edition was made (Istanbul, 1972). George S.
Harris' The Origins of Communism in Turkey (Stanford, 1967)
places the topic into perspective.
Kazim Karabekir's output, though critical to the
understanding of many a development, has been least studied.
See especially his Istiklal Harbimiz Vol. I, (Istanbul,
1960) First Edition, 1171 Pp. Published posthumously
(Karabekir died in 1948), the volume was written by
Karabekir during his forced retirement between 1928-1938,
based on copies of his official and private correspondence
and field diaries. The publisher of Karabekir's Istiklal
Harbimizin Esaslari (Istanbul, 1933-1951) inserted a note to
the 1951 edition explaining that the complete stock of this
book's 1933 edition was confiscated and burnt the same year,
by persons named therein, ostensibly working for political
office holders of the day. After reading the volume, one may
surmise the reason. Further comments on the subject is found
in Erik Jan Zrcher, "Young Turk Memoirs as a Historical
Source: Kazim Karabekir's Istiklal Harbimiz" Middle Eastern
Studies Vol. 22, No. 4, October 1986.
As a cohort and colleague in Istanbul, Karabekir was in
a position to know Enver (1881-1922) first hand, and he
collected his observations in Istiklal Harbinde Enver Pasa
(Istanbul, 1967). As Director of the Intelligence Branch of
the Ottoman General Staff, Karabekir knew, better than
anyone, the mechanism by which the Ottoman empire was drawn
into the First World War, and recorded his observations in
Cihan Harbine Neden Girdik, Nasil Girdik, Nasil Idare Ettik
(Istanbul, 1937). Though immensely useful, all are rather
difficult to use.
Karabekir wrote approximately three dozen volumes in
his life, some two dozen of them were apparently printed to
date. Among those, there are educational plays for children,
military training manuals, at least two songbooks (also for
school children) for which he also wrote the music, works on
strategy and tactics, diplomatic histories, and intelligence
methods. Not all are available to us. He notes that one of
the books he wrote, gtlerim was issued four thousand
copies in Erzurum (1920) and distributed to all of the war
orphans being cared for by the XV. Army Corps. The
Azerbaijan leadership requested a copy (probably during
1920), and had four thousand copies printed in Baku and
distributed to children there. Karabekir's gtlerim was
reprinted, combined with his ocuk Davamiz (Istanbul, 1990)
This paper makes extensive use of Karabekir's records,
as they exhibit the nature of an archive, containing copies
of actual documents, as opposed to an analytical history
Other commanders of the Turkish War of Independence,
for example, Ali Fuat Cebesoy [for a time, Commander of the
Western Front, later the First Ambassador to Moscow],
published their memoirs. See his Milli Mcadele Hatiralari.
(Istanbul, 1953); idem, General Ali Fuat Cebesoy'un Siyasi
Hatiralari. (2 Vols.) (Istanbul, 1957-1960). Another such
Officer was Fevzi akmak. He preferred to lecture the
trainee Staff Officers: Byk Harpte Sark Cephesi
Hareketleri (Sark Vilayetlerimizde, Kafkasyada ve Iranda)
(1935 de Akademi'de verilen Konferanslar) (Ankara, 1936).
The memoirs of several other key commanders were serialized
in the daily newspapers of the Turkish Republic during the
1950s and 1960s, but not all were collected and issued as
free standing volumes. Among them are the recollections of
one of the TBMM intelligence chiefs in Istanbul --The
Nationalist Movement appears to had at least three separate
and distinct intelligence networks operating in Istanbul
throughout the occupation period. TBMM also employed what
might perhaps be identified as the last successful regular
cavalry army in history. See Fahrettin Altay, Milli Mcadele
Hatiralari (Istanbul, 1958); idem, 10 Yil Savas 1912-1922 ve
Sonrasi (Istanbul, 1970). A related work is by Abdurrahman
zgen, Milli Mcadele'de Turk Akincilari (Ankara, n.d.).
Mustafa Kemal [Ataturk] made his memoirs public, in his
Nutuk, (3 Vols.) (Ankara, 1960-1961) which was delivered as
a six-day long speech to the nation. It was translated from
the 1927 original, under the title A Speech Delivered by
Ghazi Mustapha Kemal, President of the Turkish Republic,
October 1927 (Leipzig, 1929). Ataturk'n Milli Dis
Politikasi (Cumhuriyet Dnemine ait 100 Belge, 1923-1938)
(Ankara, 1981) provides copies of relevant documents not
included in the Nutuk. Ataturk'n TBMM Acik ve Gizli
Oturumlarindaki Konusmalari (Kazim Ozturk, Ed.) (Ankara,
1981) supplies a perspective on some debates not recorded
elsewhere. Reportedly, this last work went out of print in
record time, sparking speculation that descendents of a
number of individuals cited by Ataturk in those speeches
wished to remove the volume out of circulation.
Enver Pasha, though he did not participate in the TBMM
efforts, and [was] even inimical towards it, nontheless was
instrumental in influencing the Bolshevik plans for this
period, wrote a partial autobiography which he brought down
to 1908. It was translated into German, but apparently not
published. The MSS is in the Sterling Library of Yale
University. (also noted by Glen Swanson, "Enver Pasha: The
Formative Years" Middle Eastern Studies, Vol. 16, No. 3,
October 1980). Sukru Hanioglu published a group of Enver
Pasha's personal letters, originally written in French (also
found in the Sterling Library), and their Turkish
translations, under the title Kendi Mektuplarinda Enver Pasa
(Istanbul, 1989). Masayuki Yamauchi, in The Green Crescent
Under the Red Star: Enver Pasha in Soviet Russia 1919-1922
(Tokyo: Institute for the Study of Languages and Cultures of
Asia and Africa, 1991) [Studia Culturae Islamicae, No. 42],
published a portion of the Enver Pasha papers held in the
Turkish Historical Society (Ankara) archives. Azade-Ayse
Rorlich provides a further view of Enver in her "Fellow
Travelers: Enver Pasha and the Bolshevik Government 1918-
1920" in the Journal of the Royal Society for Asian Affairs,
Vol. XIII (Old Series Vol 69), Part III, October 1982. S.
S. Aydemir wrote three highly readable biographies, in which
he reconstructs the lives and activities of the named:
Makedonyadan Orta Asyaya Enver Pasa (3 Vols.) (Istanbul,
1970-1972) [several printings were made], utilizing Enver's
autobiography; Tek Adam [Mustafa Kemal]. (3 Vols.)
(Istanbul, 1963-1965); and Ikinci Adam [Ismet Inonu] (3
Vols.) (Istanbul, 1966-1969). See also Feridun Kandemir,
Enver Pasa'nin Son Gnleri (Istanbul, 1943).
Liman von Sanders was one of the highest ranking German
officers who was sent to the Ottoman empire within the
context of the German Military Mission for Reform. His
observations were translated into English: My Five Years in
Turkey. (Annapolis: MD, 1927). Akdes Nimet Kurat (Ed.),
Turkiye'de Bulunan Alman Generallerinin Raporlari (Ankara,
1966) provides synopses of other principal German officers'
Other observers include Feridun Kandemir, Istiklal
Savasinda Bozguncular ve Casuslar (Istanbul, 1964); and Arif
Baytin, Ilk Dnya Harbinde Kafkas Cephesi (Istanbul, 1946).
Turk Kurtulus Savasi Kronolojisi, Mudanya
Mtakeresinden 1923 Sonuna Kadar (Ankara, 1974); G.
Jaeschke, Kurtulus Savasi ile ilgili Ingiliz Belgeleri
(Ankara, 1971) and Bilal N. Simsir, Ingiliz Belgelerinde
Ataturk (3 Vols.) (Ankara, 1973) provide the documents and
necessary chronology to reconstruct the general timetable
Harry N. Howard's two books, The Partition of Turkey,
1913-1923: A Diplomatic History (Norman, OK, 1931), and The
King-Crane Commission (Beirut, 1963); as well as the "King-
Crane Report on the Near East, A Suppressed Official
Document of the United States Government," Editor and
Publisher, LV, No. 27 (December 2, 1922), i-xxvii, along
with Major General James G. Harbord (USA) Report Dated 16
October 1919, in American Association for International
Conciliation. No. 151, (June 1920). Pp. 275-302, fill many a
For general background reading, see: Ahmed Emin
[Yalman], The Development of Modern Turkey as Measured by
Its Press (New York, 1914); idem, Turkey in World War (New
Haven, 1931); Halide Edib [Adivar] The Turkish Ordeal (NY,
1928); Uriel Heyd, Foundations of Turkish Nationalism: The
Life and Teachings of Ziya Gokalp (London, 1950); L. V.
Thomas and R. N. Frye, The United States and Turkey and Iran
(Cambridge, MA, 1951); F. Kazemzadeh, The Struggle for
Transcaucasia 1917-1921 (NY, 1951); T. Z. Tunaya Turkiyede
Siyasi Partiler, 1859-1952 (Istanbul, 1952); Serif Mardin,
Jon Turklerin Siyasi Fikirleri, 1895-1908 (Ankara, 1964); E.
E. Ramsaur, The Young Turks (Beirut, 1965); G. L. Lewis,
Turkey (London, 1965); idem, Modern Turkey (London, 1974);
Feroz Ahmad, The Young Turks: The Committee of Union and
Progress in Turkish Politics, 1908-1914 (Oxford, 1969); Sina
Aksin, 31 Mart Olayi (Ankara, 1970); M. Gilbert, Winston S.
Churchill, 1914-1916. (Boston, 1971); B. Lewis, The
Emergence of Modern Turkey (Oxford, 1976); S. J. Shaw & E.
K. Shaw, History of the Ottoman Empire and Modern Turkey
(Cambridge, 1977); Lord Kinross, Ataturk (New York, 1978);
Alvin Z. Rubinstein, Soviet Policy Towards Turkey, Iran, and
Afghanistan: The Dynamics of Influence (New York, 1982); M.
Skr Hanioglu, Bir Siyasal Orgut olarak 'Osmanli Ittihat ve
Terakki Cemiyeti' ve 'Jon Turkluk' 1889-1902 (Vol I)
(Istanbul, 1985); Sevket Pamuk, The Ottoman Empire and
European Capitalism, 1820-1913: Trade, Investment and
Production (Cambridge University Press, 1987); Resat Kasaba,
The Ottoman Empire and the World Economy: The Nineteenth
Century (State University of New York Press, 1988); Bruce
Masters, The Origins od Western Economic Dominance in the
Middle East: Mercantilism and the Islamic Economy in Aleppo,
1600-1750 (New York University Press, 1988); Daniel Goffman,
Izmir and the Levantine World 1550-1650 (Seattle, 1990);
Selim Deringil, Turkish Foreign Policy during the Second World
War: An "Active Neutrality" (Cambridge University Press, 1989);
Masami Arai, Turkish Nationalism in the Young Turk Era
13. Inter alia, see Nur Bilge Criss, "Istanbul During Allied
Occupation, 1918-1923." PhD dissertation, The George Washington
14. See for example, the Joint Note of the Allied
Governments in answer to President Wilson, The Murderous
Tyranny of the Turks written by Arnold J. Toynbee (Hodder &
Stoughton, 1917). Toynbee was a member of the British
Delegation to the Paris Peace Conference. He later "toned
down" his "arguments," though his leanings are still thinly
veiled. See Arnold J. Toynbee and Kenneth P. Kirkwood,
Turkey (Charles Scribners, 1927). Felix Valyi's Turk's Last
Stand: The Historical Tragedy on the Bosphorus (London,
1913) was originally delivered as a lecture at the
University of London, and translated into English, reflects
the prevailing French position and disagreements between the
Allies even before the war.
15. See Howard, The King-Crane Commission, 269. Note 1.
16. Letter from U. S. Ambassador Davis to British Foreign
Secretary Lord Curzon, May 12, 1920. Documents on the Middle
East, Ralph H. Magnus (Ed.) (American Enterprise Institute,
1969), 37. Curzon was one of the "Players" of the "Great
Game in Asia."
17. These were following the pattern of the Mudros Armistice
of October 1918. See also Ali Turkgeldi, Moudros ve Mudanya
Mtarekelerinin Tarihi (Ankara, 1948).
18. See cable in Karabekir, 513. As late as 5 March 1920, "the American Representative
in Istanbul" (identity of whom is not disclosed, but
probably is Admiral Bristol) was stressing to Rauf Bey
[Orbay], former Minister of Navy of the Ottoman Empire, that
the U. S. did not recognize Britain's occupation of the
19. The U. S. Senate used George Washington's argument
against "foreign entanglements" to decline ratification both
the League of Nations and the Lausanne Treaties.
20. Howard, 308. A note on the names appearing within square brackets
: Soyadi Kanunu (The Family Name Law) was adopted by the
TBMM on 21 June 1934, which concurrently conferred upon
Mustafa Kemal the family name of "Ataturk" and prohibited
the use of that last name by any other individual. In turn,
Ataturk suggested surnames for his close associates, such as
"Inonu" for Ismet Bey, to honor a significant battle the
latter won at a geographic location by that designation
against the invading Greek forces in Western Asia Minor. See
Stanford J. & Ezel Kural Shaw, History of Ottoman Empire and
Modern Turkey, 1808-1975 (Cambridge, 1977). (Two Vols.) 355-
6. Kazim Karabekir had officially adopted his surname earlier,
on 15 April 1911. There was another Kazim Bey in the XV. Army
Corps under Karabekir's Command, who was eventually assigned
to be the Acting Commander of the same XV. Army Corps during
1920 for a short duration when Karabekir assumed the Command
of the Eastern Command. Karabekir noted on page 884 of
Istiklal Harbimiz that this Kazim Bey, a colonel, later
adopted "Dirik" as his surname, dispelling the notion of
Karabekir himself being present in two different locations
simultaneously. Another confusion involves "Vasif Bey,"
appearing in this paper. There were probably two, the first was
working for the American Mandate, and the other handled papers
related to Bolshevism.
21. Karabekir, 59, 118, 358.
22. This Society was similar to those already extant at the
time in Egypt, India, Georgia and Azerbaijan. The French
also had their Alliance Franais, akin to those found in
Algeria, South East Asia and Oxford.
According to a cable dated 20 September 1919, the
Ingiliz Muhipler Cemiyeti in Istanbul was engaged in
inducting new members in the company of police officers,
with their committees canvassing the population door-to-
The Declaration and Program of the "Ingiliz
Muhipleri Cemiyeti" is in Karabekir, 156-157. See also Fethi
Tevetoglu, Milli Mucadele Yillarindaki Kuruluslar: Karakol
Cemiyeti, Turkiye'de Ingiliz Muhibleri Cemiyeti, Wilson
Prensipleri Cemiyeti, Yesilordu Cemiyeti (Ankara, 1988).
23. Rawlinson, a British army Lt. Colonel, was a Control
Officer in charge of disarming the Ottoman army in Eastern
Asia Minor according to the post-war treaties, especially
Sevres. There were probably a dozen such officers posted
around Asia Minor. Karabekir thought Rawlinson was given
other duties as well. He proved to be correct. Like his
predecessors and cohorts, Rawlinson published his memoirs,
where he elliptically mentions his special duties and the
secret verbal orders he received. See Alfred Rawlinson,
Adventures in the Middle East. (London, 1923).
24. Karabekir notes: "The Russian Colonel was brought by
Rawlinson to look for arms and munitions for the Denikin
army. Rawlinson stated that the Whites were British allies,
but this Colonel began engaging in Bolshevik propaganda
[sic, perhaps the colonel had concealed his allegiances]
wherever he went in my territory. I protested, Rawlinson
apologized and the Russian Colonel was deported." Rawlinson
mentions the Russian Colonel, but likewise does not identify
him by name.
25. Karabekir, 63. However, Rawlinson identifies this naval
lieutenant as Dunn, of the US Navy Intelligence.
26. A French Colonel also arrived in Erzurum on 2 July 1919.
27. Richard Ullman, Anglo-Soviet Relations, 1917-1921;
Intervention and the War (Princeton, 1961).
28. On numerous occasions Karabekir provides details,
including the fact that he issued "shoot to kill" orders. He
so informed the British and the Bolsheviks.
29. President Wilson returned to France on 5 March 1919. He
again departed for the U. S. on 30 june 1919.
30. The King-Crane Commission departed Istanbul for Paris on
board USS Dupont 21 August 1919, made its report on 28
August 1919. For a segment of the report, see Documents on
the Middle East, 28-37. A more comprehensive coverage is
provided in Howard.
31. Karabekir, 118-119.
32. Held at the instigation, organization and insistence of
Karabekir. Its communique contained ten articles. Text is in
Karabekir, 106-107. See also Shaw, Pp. 344-346; Mahmut
Gologlu, Erzurum Kongresi (Ankara, 1968).
33. Karabekir, 102.
34. Text is in Karabekir, 102-3.
35. Rawlinson notes that he returned to London. He gave
reports, including to Lord Curzon.
36. Karabekir does not otherwise identify them, complaining
that they had pre-conceived notions of what they wished to
find. Karabekir, 108.
37. Sivas Congress was in session 4-11 Sep 1919. Its
Declaration is in Karabekir, 216-217. Also, Mahmut Gologlu,
Sivas Kongresi (Ankara, 1968); Shaw, Pp. 346-347.
38. Karabekir, 121; Howard, 161-179. Karabekir wished that
the American Delegation would speak directly with him, so
that he could dissuade the Delegation from pursuing the
39. Mustafa Kemal was in Amasya, discussing the matter with
others. Text of the cable is in Karabekir, 57. Shaw, on P.
344, notes that immediately before the Amasya meeting,
Mustafa Kemal met in Havza with a Bolshevik delegation
headed by Colonel Semen Budenny, who offered arms and
ammunition and urged Bolshevism. Sadi Borak, ykleriyle
Ataturk'n Ozel Mektuplari (Istanbul, 1980) Pp. 168-238,
contains the 1920 deliberations of TBMM under Mustafa
Kemal's Presidency, concerning Bolshevizm.
40. Ismet [Inonu] (1884-1973) later joined the Nationalist
movement. He and Karabekir were close friends. Ismet Bey
became the TBMM Chief of Staff, then successively Commander
of the Western Front, TBMM Representative at Mudanya
Armistice 1922. He negotiated the 1923 Lausanne Treaty,
served as the first Prime Minister 1923-1924, again during
1925-1937, and as the second President of the Turkish
Republic 1938-1950 after Mustafa Kemal [Ataturk]. During
1950-1960 Inonu was the Leader of the Opposition, during which
time he made one of his principal contributions to the
Turkish society. Shortly before his death, he once again became
Prime Minister 1961-1965. See S. S. Aydemir, Ikinci Adam
[Ismet Inonu] (Istanbul, 1972). Several reprints are
41. Throughout this study, the term "Staff Officer" is
employed to designate "erkaniharp" [literally "competent
(important for) of war"] used by the original sources.
[After the language reforms, replaced by the term "kurmay"].
It is a grade attained by officers completing the higher
level "erkaniharp mektebi," the Command and General Staff
School [established in the post-Crimean War period], after
graduating the "Mektebi Harbiye-i Sahane," the Military
Academy. As in the Prussian system, the planning functions
of units above the battalion strength were entrusted to
officers of this group, because they specialize in every
branch possessed by the army. Consequently, a Staff Officer
was expected to be able to replace any officer of any other
specialty without prior warning, and function just as well.
Moreover, after the military reforms of the 19th century,
promotion to the ranks of Flag Command was basically open
only to them. As a result, a Staff Officer was held in
higher regard. Tsarist General Staff had also copied the
42. Field Marshal [Ahmet] Izzet Pasha was a highly respected
General for his integrity and abilities, had served in Yemen
and the Balkan Wars (1911-1912), with a strong and loyal
following among the Officer Corps, especially Staff
Officers. Karabekir at one point have served under him.
Ismet Bey had also been a member of Izzet Pasha's Staff, and
enjoyed his trust and affection. The courier, the Staff
Officer in question, wished to also make personal contact
with Mustafa Kemal and Rauf Bey [Orbay] in Erzurum.
Karabekir, 150. See also S. S. Aydemir, Ikinci Adam. Vol I.
Therefore, this channel made use of the Ismet Bey to
reach Karabekir directly. It is not clear if Izzet Pasha was
aware how his own declaration was being used; or, for that
matter, if he indeed penned the Memorandum. Text is in
Not to be confused with [Yusuf] Izzet Pasha. See Borak,
Pp. 304-312; Aydemir Ikinci Adam, Vol I, Pp. 142-143.
43. The Staff Officer was Erzincanli Saffet Bey. Karabekir,
150. FN; 169. Karabekir notes that Saffet Bey was sent to
Asia Minor, officially on leave, "ostensibly to pursue
personal business in Erzincan."
44. The text is in Karabekir, 170-174.
45. Dated 27 August 1919, text following the Izzet Pasha
46. Ismet Bey to Mustafa Kemal, cable, December (no day
47. Mustafa Kemal to Karabekir, cable, 4 December 1919.
48. Ismet Bey to Karabekir, cable, 29 December 1919.
49. Texts in Karabekir, 178-179.
50. Cable from III. Army Corps Chief of Staff Ahmet Zeki to
Karabekir on mandate; Karabekir, 144.
51. Ali Fuat [Cebesoy] (1882-1968) later became the
Commander of Western Front, first TBMM Ambassador to Moscow,
Member of TBMM, Minister of public works. See his memoirs.
52. Cable, 26 August 1919.
53. Ismet Bey even appeared in Ankara on 20 January 1920,
presumably to convince Mustafa Kemal, and returned to
Istanbul on 11 February 1920. It was after 16 March 1920,
when the Allies occupied the Ottoman Representative Assembly
(Meclisi Mebusan) in Istanbul, and sent most of its
membership to Malta as prisoners, Ismet Bey left Istanbul
with difficulty and joined the Nationalist Movement in
54. Texts in Karabekir, 180.
55. Karabekir, 181; FN.
56. See Ali Fuat Cebesoy, Sinif Arkadasim Ataturk: Okul ve
Genc Subaylik Hatiralari (Istanbul, 1967).
57. The "conduit" was Louis Edgar Browne, the special
correspondent of the Chicago Daily News, sent by Crane.
Karabekir obtained advance information on this visit,
including Browne's proposed itinerary. See Karabekir, 136,
142. Browne also published his views in Daily News mostly
during August 1919. Browne's presence was not at all
appreciated by the British Foreign Office, neither was his
publication of information long regarded not only
confidential, but also the sole preserve of the Foreign and
Colonial Office. For British Comments, see Howard, 290.
58. Karabekir notes a letter (dated 17 October 1919) he
received from Colonel Galatali Sevket Bey providing Admiral
Bristol's comments. The tone of the letter suggests that the
quotation from Admiral Bristol was obtained personally and
privately. See 377.
See also the cable Karabekir received from Rauf
[Orbay], former Ottoman Minister of the Navy, dated 5 March
1920, via Ankara, after Rauf Bey personally spoke with "the
American Representative in Istanbul" (Admiral Bristol?).
59. See Howard, 271.
60. Mustafa Kemal To Karabekir, cable dated 21 September
1919. Text in Karabekir 225; Also reported by Howard, 273.
61. Karabekir, 224-300 contains cables, analysis and
62. Text in Karabekir, 305-314, followed by addenda, 314-
318. It appears that this report was published separately by
Karabekir, in Erzurum, probably in the same year. Harbord's
report was also printed, probably in condensed form: Major
General James G. Harbord (USA) Report Dated 16 October 1919,
in American Association for International Conciliation. No.
151, (June 1920). Howard notes that a US Senate Hearing also
included the Harbord comments.
63. The schools and organizations Karabekir established
within the XV. Army Corps during 1919 to care for the war
orphans apparently formed the basis of the ocuk Esirgeme
Kurumu founded later by the TBMM government.
64. Individuals are identified in Karabekir, 181-182. It is
suggested that the Minister of Interior in Istanbul, Adil
Bey; Minister of War in Istanbul, Sleyman Sefik Pasha were
also implicated. Texts of cables provided in Karabekir, 203.
65. Numerous texts and analysis are scattered in Karabekir,
66. Their correspondence with the Istanbul Ministry of
Interior were intercepted, outlining the basic plan. Texts
are in Karabekir, 208-210.
67. Karabekir, 262-264.
68. Karabekir notes that, later refined intelligence
indicated a secondary objective of the plotters: ambushing
the Sivas Congress, arresting and sending its leadership to
Istanbul. Karabekir, 182. See also Borak, Pp. 324-337.
69. What was prevented in Eastern Asia Minor, was reenacted
in the Northwest and Western Asia Minor, during early 1920.
Those provocations had to be dealt with military units and
the Independence Tribunals [Istiklal Mahkemeleri]. See, for
example, the communication related to the Anzavur incident
in Karabekir, 502-510. See also Bilal Simsir, Ingiliz
Belgeleri ile Sakarya'dan Izmir'e (1921-1922) (Istanbul,
70. Shortly after the aforementioned military movements
commenced, Major Noel's superiors began appearing in the
territories of the XIII. and III. Army Corps: On 12
September 1919, Colonel Zehzild (Sp?), who was based in
Malatya; on 13 September, 1919, Colonel Neil (Neal?) who
especially came to Malatya in connection with this matter;
on 12 September 1919, Colonel Pepl (Sp?), who arrived
separately, from Aleppo, in Malatya; all of whom personally
received hearty protests from the XIII. Army Corps
Commander, General Cevdet. In addition, the US General
Hanlig (Sp?), in charge of another investigative delegation
on its way to Harput and Sivas, received a detailed briefing
of the events. The XIII. Army Corps Commander Cevdet Bey
also telegraphed his vehement protests to the British
General Commanding in Aleppo. Reportedly, Col. Neil indicated
that Major Noel had acted without the information or
authority of the British government, therefore was being
withdrawn immediately. See 239 and 246.
71. Text of "Crimes of the Cabinet" in Karabekir, 182-184;
pages 226-228 contain the synopsis of the events, and what
the Istanbul government hoped to accomplish.
72. Texts in Karabekir, 283-294.
73. One sample is in Karabekir, 296-297.
74. On 5 April 1920, General Denikin arrived in Istanbul
aboard a British destroyer, in the company of his Chief of
Staff and visited the "Romanoff Embassy" in Istanbul.
Denikin's Chief of Staff was murdered by persons unknown,
upon which Denikin immediately returned to the destroyer.
75. Brother and uncle respectively, of Enver. Both had
participated in the First World War against the Russians,
appointed as Generals and Army Commanders by Enver. After
the Armistice, both had attempted to organize an Army of
Islam in the Caucasus with which to fight the Bolsheviks.
They failed and were detained.
76. See Richard Ullman, Anglo-Soviet Relations, 1917-1921;
Intervention and the War (Princeton, 1961), 75; 227-230. The
idea was originally advanced by British General Smuts, who
was opposed by Curzon.
77. For example, see La Republique de l'Azerbaidjan du
Caucase (Paris, 1919).
78. Karabekir, 456.
79. Karabekir sent word, directly (using a pen name) and via
others, that Azerbaijan ought to come to an understanding
with the Bolsheviks at the earliest possible opportunity, to
retain its independence. Otherwise, he warned, any misstep
--especially armed conflict-- would cause the demise of
Azerbaijan. See 523-524. See also Hseyin Baykara Azerbaycan
Istiklal Mucadelesi Tarihi (Istanbul, 1975).
80. Rauf Bey [Orbay] (1881-1964) was a former Minister of
Navy of the Ottoman Empire. He went to Istanbul as a Meclisi
Mebusan deputy, with full sanction of the TBMM movement,
aware of what could happen. He was among the group arrested
within the Meclisi Mebusan and interned at Malta by the
British. After his release and return, he also served as
TBMM Prime Minister (1922-1923).
81. The specific date is not indicated, but probably not
later than June 1919.
82. Karabekir, 58.
83. See Y. Akyuz, Turk Kurtulus Savasi ve Fransiz Kamuoyu,
1919-1922 (Ankara, 1988); M. N. Lohanizade, Gaziantep
Savunmasi (Istanbul, 1989); Kazim Ozturk, Ataturk'n TBMM
Aik ve Gizli Oturumlarindaki Konusmalari, Vol. I, 291-294.
Also, Karabekir, 460-464.
84. Mustafa Kemal to Karabekir, cable, 6 February 1920;
outlines the current and its debate. Karabekir, 465-467. See
85. During 1919 alone, for example, there were no less than
eleven new Ministers of War in Istanbul.
86. See also Mahmut Sevket Pasa Sadrazam ve Harbiye Naziri
Mahmut Sevket Pasa'nin Gunlugu (Istanbul, 1988).
87. The territories lost to Russia in the 19th century
included west and northwest of Nakchevan, including Batum,
Kars and Ardahan. Those were restored to the Ottomans by the
Brest-Litovsk treaty of 3 March 1918, but the treaty
provisions were not yet implemented. That is not to say that
Karabekir had not that very idea, reoccupation of the lost
territories. However, Karabekir was determined to choose his
own timing. He was not allowed by the TBMM, and had to
comply with a much different timetable. See also A. B.
Kadishev, Interventsiia i grazhdanskaia voina v zakavkaz'e
(Moscow, 1960); G. Madatov, Pobeda sovetskoi vlasti v
Nakhichevani i obrazovannie Nakhichevanskoi ASSR (Baku,
1968); and the Fevzi Cakmak volume.
88. See cables: Karabekir to Mustafa Kemal (22 February
1920); and Mustafa Kemal, on behalf of the Representative
Council, to Karabekir (23 February 1920). They are both
lengthy and complex, providing details on the suspicion that
there may yet be another agenda to the Allied encouragement
of Ankara, one that would pit the forces of TBMM directly
against those of the Istanbul government, thereby allowing
the Allied powers to exert control over the considerably
weakened survivors. Karabekir, 478-482.
89. See E. E. Adamov (Ed.) Razdel Aziatskoi Turstsii
(Partition of Asiatic Turkey) (Moscow, 1924) is based on the
papers of the tsarist Foreign Ministry Papers. This book was
published when the Bolsheviks were eager to be seen as
completely breaking with the tsarist mold. This work was
translated into Turkish by Staff Officer Lt. Col. Babaeskili
Huseyin Rahmi in Amiens-France and published as Anadolunun
Taksim Plani (Istanbul, 1926). A Second Edition was made
90. Some twenty-five years later, immediately after the
Second World War, Russians did just that, and demanded the
very same territory from the Turkish Republic.
91. For the general model developed for the purpose, see A.
Reznikov The Comintern and the East: Strategy and Tactics
(Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1984). This is an abridged
translation from the original 1978 Russian edition.
92. For an inside view, see Va-Nu (Vala Nureddin), Bu
Dunyadan Nazim Gecti. (Istanbul, 1965). Also, S. S. Aydemir,
Suyu Arayan Adam (Istanbul, 1972). Further, H. B. Paksoy,
"Nationality and Religion: Three Observations from mer
Seyfettin" Central Asian Survey Vol. 3, No. 3, (1984) for
an example on the activities of nationalist literati of the
93. Detailed reports from the Caucasus are in Karabekir,
491-497, including the political spectrum in Azerbaijan.
94. Cable dated 5 March 1920 from Rauf [Orbay] to TBMM,
concerning 1) "non-publication" of the Harbord Report [sic],
and 2) Rauf Bey's words: "we shall look to the East if...
the US does not follow through its publicly made
commitments" are significant. Karabekir, 513.
See also "King-Crane Report on the Near East, A
Suppressed Official Document of the United States
Government," Editor and Publisher, LV, No. 27 (December 2,
95. Azerbaijan Democratic Republic was announced on 28 May
1918. It was re-occupied by the Russsians on 28 April 1920,
despite the written guarantees they gave to the contrary.
96. Karabekir, 520, 522.
97. Karabekir notes that in the end Dr. Fuat Sabit became a
real Bolshevik, returned to the TBMM territories with money
and secret code to communicate with his controllers,
established his operation across Karabekir's headquarters
and was caught red handed. The tone of the references to Dr.
Fuat Sabit suggests that Karabekir took the incident rather
personally, perhaps even regarding it as a personal failure.
See note on 794.
98. Cable from Mustafa Kemal to Karabekir, dated 15 March
99. Karabekir, 528.
100. After Karabekir's orders were carried out, the TBMM
leadership in Ankara, through Mustafa Kemal, directed
Karabekir to invite Rawlinson "to be our guest."
101. In his memoirs, Rawlinson seems to dispute this.
102. Rawlinson speaks very highly of Karabekir, though not
recording every encounter the two had.
103. Intelligence reports are on Karabekir, 539-543.
According to the reporting officer, one member of this
delegation was "an Ottoman Turk who had moved to the tsarist
domains some five or six years earlier." The second was a
Tatar from Crimea and the third "a Moslem" from Yalta. They
carried credentials sewn into the inner linings of their
trouser belts. It appears that this delegation was
discovered by happenstance. Karabekir ordered additional
information on the circumstances through which this
Delegation came into contact with his officers.
104. Cables dated 17 March to 21 March 1920. Karabekir, 544-
105. Details of the conditions are on Karabekir, 550-554. On
communications censorship, see 590.
106. At that moment, the border was almost immediately to
the East of Trabzon, as a result of the 1877 and 1914
107. Karabekir does not provide the details of how the prior
arrangement was made. On the other hand, it was probably
accomplished through Staff Officer Captain Mustafa Bey, or
by the Commander of the 7th Regiment (of the component 3rd
Division in Trabzon of the XV. Army Corps), Riza Bey (no
rank given). Both had been previously sent to make contact
with the bolsheviks. There is also mention of another
Captain by the name of Ihsan Efendi, who had been on the
Staff of the 3rd Division Commander Rst during the First
World War, also sent by the 3rd Division Commander across
the border upon receiving orders from Karabekir on 17 March.
108. Karabekir, 571-575.
109. Meaning "National Forces." When the Greek armies began
occupying Western Asia Minor in May 1919, most of the
citizenry in the region formed defense and resistance units
to fight the invasion. These units were generally known as
"Kuvai Milliye." See Shaw, 340-1. Karabekir continually
argued against converting the existing Army Corps structure
into "Kuvai Milliye," as some others (such as Ali Fuat and
Mustafa Kemal) advocated, for it would not have brought any
advantage, since the Army Corps were the National Forces.
Portions of the XIV. (Bandirma) and the XX. (Ankara) Corps,
in the vicinity of Eskisehir and towards the Northwest, were
actually "converted" --whatever that may have signified--
into "Kuvai Milliye" and entered into armed conflicts;
probably not all sanctioned by the full Representative
Council in Ankara. Shortly afterward, that designation was
abandoned, and the Army Corps structure reinstituted for the
XIV. and XX. See Borak; Ozturk, for related events.
110. Karabekir, 581.
111. On 28 March 1920, Karabekir wrote to Halil and Nuri
Pashas, asking them to establish a wireless in the city of
Gence and transmit information to be received by those three
stations of the XV. Army Corps. Karabekir indicates that his
wireless were using the call "E. B. K."
112. She also served as a translator to several delegations
consulting with the King-Crane Commission in Istanbul
regarding the American Mandate. See her Turkiye'de Sark,
Garp ve Amerikan Tesirleri, (Istanbul, 1955).
113. Texts are on Karabekir, 609-616.
114. It is possible that during the transcription process
(It is recalled that the TBMM adopted the Latin alphabet
during 1928, and the documents were originally written in
the "Ottoman Script"), the letter b may have been omitted
from the name Baha Sabit.
115. [sic] The text does not state "by you," but is
116. Cable from Karabekir to Mustafa Kemal, dated 12 April
117. Karabekir to Mustafa Kemal, cable dated 13 April 1920.
118. Karabekir to Mustafa Kemal, 13 April 1920. 620-624.
119. Not to be confused with the Karakol Cemiyeti [Outpost
Society] operational in Istanbul in 1919, which was
suppressed by the Allies, and succeeded by the "M. M."
groups. See below.
120. Text in Karabekir, 628-630.
121. It appears that this Kara Vasif Bey is a different
person than the Vasif Bey who worked to effect the American
Mandate. According to the documentation provided by S. S.
Aydemir, Makedonya'dan Orta Asya'ya Enver Pasa (Istanbul,
1972) Vol. 3, Kara Vasif Bey was working for Enver Pasha,
receiving regular pay. In return, the Bolshevik government
was funding Enver and his various secret organizational
efforts via the Foreign Affairs Commisar. Enver wished to
return to Asia Minor, take over the TBMM movement and
replace its leadership with previous CUP cadres.
122. Mustafa Kemal to Karabekir, dated 16 April 1920. Texts
are in Karabekir, 630-632. See also Borak.
123. Texts are on Karabekir, 633-634.
124. See Ozturk, Ataturk'n TBMM Acik ve Gizli
125. See notes on 650-656. However, this is not a widely
held view. It is said that Karabekir was, by that time, in
political opposition to Mustafa Kemal. See Shaw, 360-1.
126. Yomut is a tribe of the Turkmen, a fact Karabekir
acknowledges further down the Declaration. This dual
treatment of the Yomut by Karabekir may be due to the
widespread presence of Yomut, from Iran to Afghanistan.
127. Text in Karabekir, 661-662.
For Z. V. Togan, see H. B. Paksoy, "Z. V. TOGAN on the
Origins of the Kazaks and the Ozbeks," in Central Asia
Reader: The Rediscovery of History, H. B. Paksoy, Ed.
(NY: M. E. Sharpe, 1994); idem, "Zeki Velidi Togan's
Account: The Basmachi Movement from Within." Nationalities
Papers, Vol. 23 (1995).
Togan mentions his efforts to communicate with the TBMM
Government in his Hatiralar [Memoirs], (Istanbul, 1969),
published a year before his death in Istanbul.
128. Texts are on Karabekir, 662-663. Also Borak.
129. The contradiction between the date mentioned earlier
and this one is perhaps due to messages arriving overnight,
straddling two days, or caused by the date conversion
method, an issue referenced earlier.
130. Contents are in Karabekir, 667-668.
131. Karabekir, 673-678.
132. One specific instance concerns Mustafa Kemal's repeated
attempts to give orders to two officers in Karabekir's
Command, without informing Karabekir in advance. Karabekir
discovered the incident by means of personally breaking the
code of a suspicious telegram. He confronted Mustafa Kemal
politely, and the officers concerned firmly. Details on 680-
The correspondence given in Borak, Pp. 266-280,
indicates that Mustafa Kemal was engaged in intelligence
work on his own, and that this incident masked a much more
serious matter. At issue was an Ittihat ve Terakki group
loyal to Enver Pasha's attemting to overthrow the TBMM by
force. Mustafa Kemal was ugrently undoing the efforts of
Enver. The indicated pages in Borak also contain copies of
cables informing Karabekir of the developments.
133. Texts on Karabekir, 682-684. R. Pipes in his The
Formation of the Soviet Union, 1917-1924, 2nd printing
(Harvard, 1970) on 181 states that Orenburg was captured by
the Bolsheviks during January 1919. However, Togan, in his
Hatiralar, 324, notes he had received the said telegram as
the Chairman of the Orenburg Government, from Mustafa Kemal
in "Erzurum," relayed from Orenburg via Sterlitamak to
Moscow where he was at that moment. Togan acknowledges that
the Orenburg Government "was living its last breaths."
134. Albayrak is probably the first TBMM era periodical,
established (perhaps even at the urging of Karabekir) before
the Erzurum Congress, thus predates its counterparts in
Sivas and Ankara. However, Karabekir's comments on the
owner/publisher of this paper are not very favorable, since
the latter attempted to engage in political intrigue. See
Karabekir, note on 833.
135. Texts in Karabekir, 695-696. See also A. Gkoglu,
Inkilabimizda Posta ve Telgrafcilar (Istanbul, 1938).
Telegraphers attached to the TBMM intelligence
organizations in occupied Istanbul managed to evade all
Allied censorship controls and continually provided
information to Karabekir and Ankara. As recorded by the
chiefs of those organizations, such as the "M. M. Group,"
often they operated around the clock. For details, see, for
example, Kemal Koer, Kurtulus Savasimizda Istanbul: Isgal
Senelerinde M. M. Gurubunun Gizli Faaliyeti (Istanbul,
1946); Husamettin Erturk, Iki Devrin Perde Arkasi (S. N.
Tansu, Ed.) (Istanbul, 1957).
There were a number of groups "signing" with the "M.
M." designation in Istanbul. That may have been deliberate,
to confuse outsiders, or, a linguistic happenstance. In all
cases, the first "M" stands for National. Depending on the
group, the second "M" was the abbreviation for one of the
following: Defense, Resistance, Struggle, Response.
The first TBMM Counter-Intelligence organization
appears to have been named simply "Military Police,"
abbreviated as "A. P." It was formed probably during late
1919 or early 1920, had the task of preventing foreign
infiltration agents reaching Ankara.
136. Eventually, no funds were received.
137. For summaries, see the contents of cable dated 9 May
1920, from XII. Army Corps (Konya) to III. Army Corps
(Sivas). Karabekir, 720-721; and 728.
138. Cables in Karabekir, 720-745.
139. Text on Karabekir, 755-756; Ozturk, Ataturk'n TBMM
Acik ve Gizli Oturumlarindaki Konusmalari.
140. Signed shortly before that year. See Shaw 332.
141. Karabekir, 762-763.
142. (1872-1922) Former Minister of Navy of the Ottoman
Empire, a member of the ruling Triumvirate of the governing
Committee of Union and Progress party. Assassinated by an
143. Texts on Karabekir, 784-801; also Borak.
144. See Karabekir, 809.
145. Karabekir, 812; also 817 and 822.
146. In his memoirs, Rawlinson alludes to his methods, and
the help he received from the Istanbul government.
147. Identified as Staff Officer Major Ismail Hakki and Aziz
Bey. They state they were sent to the Northern Caucasus
together, as part of a delegation, upon specific request of
a Plenipotentiary from Northern Caucasus applying to Cemal
and Fevzi Pashas (in their capacities as Ministers of War),
arriving there (with the knowledge and aid of Karabekir) at
the end of March 1920. Their duties included organizing the
defense of Northern Caucasus and securing its independence.
This was a matter which interested Enver Pasha very much.
See also [Issuing Body] Kuzey Kafkas-Turk Kltr Dernegi
Yayini 11 Mayis 1918: Simali Kafkasya'nin Istiklali
(Istanbul, 1965). Further, M. Butbay, Kafkasya Hatiralari,
yayina hazirlayan: A. C. Canbulat (Ankara, 1990).
148. Appears to be a translation of "soviet," as used by the
149. Texts of related cables are in Karabekir, 826-836.
150. See the letters by Halil in Masayuki Yamauchi, The
Green Crescent Under the Red Star: Enver Pasha in Soviet
Russia 1919-1922 (Tokyo: Institute for the Study of
Languages and Cultures of Asia and Africa, 1991) for the
motives of Halil.
151. See Z. V. Togan, Hatiralar, for a clandestine inside
view. This Congress was earlier instigated by Togan, by
speaking to Lenin, Stalin and other TsK members. Also,
Stephen White, "The Baku Congress of the Toilers of the
East," Slavic Review, September, 1967; R. Pipes, Formation
of the Soviet Union.
152. Karabekir, 849-854; also Borak.
153. Halil Pasha was now attempting to scheme against
Karabekir, by secretly appealing to Karabekir's Chief of
Staff for joint action. See note on 863.
154. In his lengthy footnote, he also disagrees with Mustafa
Kemal's memoirs, Nutuk, citing page numbers and providing
copies of his own cables in refutation. See. Karabekir, 869-
155. Text on Karabekir, 870-872.
156. The type of this "privilege" which is not clear. The
officer uses the phrase "Demir adam sahibi imtiyazi sahibi
157. Text on Karabekir, 872-875. Also documents in Yamauchi,
on the "black market."
158. Arif Baytin, who commanded an Ottoman Infantry Regiment
during the First World War, provides a vivid account of
Enver's "field activities" at the "Caucasus Front."
According to Baytin, Enver --Minister of Defense, Son-in-Law
to the Imperial Family, Deputy Commander-in-Chief, Member of
the Ruling Triumvirate of the Governing CUP; in essence
combining all the Military and Civilian authority in his
person-- arrived with his German Staff and began giving
verbal orders to a Regimental Commander, to start the
fighting in the Caucasus Front. The hastily conceived and
issued orders, bypassing all chains-of-command and plans,
turned the tide against the Ottoman forces within three
days, when Enver left the "field" and returned Istanbul. See
Arif Baytin, Ilk Dunya Harbinde Kafkas Cephesi [The Caucasus
Front During the First World War] (Istanbul, 1946). Baytin
himself was taken prisoner by the Russians, sent to Siberia.
For further details on the topic, and commentary, see Necdet
Oklem, 1. Cihan Savasi ve Sarikamis: Ihsan Pasa'nin Anilari,
Sibiryada Esaretten Kacis (Izmir, 1985). On the other hand,
Husamettin Erturk, in his Iki Devrin Perde Arkasi, warmly
praises Enver, especially due to the establishment of the
"Teskilat-i Mahsusa," the secret service of the CUP, which
was active in the Caucasus and North Africa. In very
elliptical terms, Erturk implies that this organization also
performed duties elsewhere. See also Karabekir's volumes on
159. Karabekir, 875-876. See also Borak for correspondence
in the same vein between Enver and Mustafa Kemal.
160. Karabekir, 883-884.
161. Identified only as "Edward Fox, District Commander, N.
E. B. Kars."
162. For a while, his brother Mdivani was the Menshevik
Georgian Ambassador to Ankara. See Karabekir, 931.
163. See Ozturk, Ataturk'n TBMM Acik ve Gizli
Oturumlarindaki Konusmalari, 247-248, on the designation of
a replacement Foreign Minister. Bekir Sami Bey, who was the
Foreign Minister, was earlier appointed to the TBMM
Plenipotentiary Delegation to Moscow.
164. It is not clear if the cable or the Foreign Minister
165. For his memoirs of the period, see Ali Fuat [Cebesoy],
Moskova Hatiralari (Ankara, 1982).
166. See Masayuki Yamauchi, "A Possible solution of Mustafa
Subhi's Case: A Letter in the Archives of the Turkish
Historical Society" Turkestan: als historischer Faktor und
politische Idee (Baymirza Hayit Festschrift) Erling von
Mende (Ed.) (Koln, 1988). In a letter written by Talat to
Enver, is a description of events from Talat's point of
view, concerning the demise of Mustafa Subhi and his
167. See Ozturk, Ataturk'un TBMM Acik ve Gizli
Oturumlarindaki Konusmalari, 319-320, on the duties of the
specialized personnel assigned to the Embassy Delegation,
and granting of leave of absence.
168. Arriving in Moscow on 18 February 1921.
169. This American Institution appears to be one of the many
Relief Organizations operating in the region. Karabekir does
not provide further information on her affiliation.
170. Karabekir, 318.
171. Any sane commander would have rejected the proposal,
given the strategic conditions prevailing in the Caucasus.
Moreover, the TBMM Western Front was simultaneously under
very heavy pressure from the invading Greek Armies.
172. Which included the recovery of only the territories
lost during the 1877 and 1914 in the East.
173. The reports were finally delivered. At this point,
Karabekir indicates the arrival in Moscow of a TBMM
"Delegation." On 925, Karabekir mentions in passing that
Captain Bahattin Efendi, the Liaison Officer in Yerevan, was
174. Text on Karabekir, 928-931.
175. The letter was dated 25 January 1921. It detailed the
circumstances of the munitions being sent by Moscow to TBMM
[not the makes and calibers promised], names and personal
details of officers put in charge of the transfer of arms
from both sides, political and general conditions in Moscow,
including rampant inflation [one "funt" (approximately one
pound by weight) of cooking oil costing 13,000 rubles, sugar
27,000], and the status of the old CUP leadership. The
existence of a "free market" in Moscow, in which goods not
available from the Bolshevik government channels could be
had "on the left" is perhaps one of the most interesting
The author of the letter arrived four days after the
letter, on 25 March 1921, and was immediately sent on to
176. Full text in Karabekir, 945-950; Gologlu, Turk Istiklal
177. Karabekir implies that they conversed in French.
178. See Ali Fuat Cebesoy, Moskova Hatiralari; Karabekir,
428-450. Shortly afterwards, Ali Fuat resigned.
179. (1879-1943), a member of the CUP; later joined the
opposing Liberal Union. He became a TBMM Deputy, Minister of
Health (1920), of Foreign Affairs (1921). In 1921, he joined
the TBMM Plenipotentiary Delegation sent to Lausanne. His
memoirs are published. See Shaw; also Cavit O. Tutengil, Dr.
Riza Nur Uzerine: Yazi, Yankilar, Belgeler (Ankara, 1965);
and S. S. Aydemir, Makedonya'dan Orta Asya'ya Enver Pasa
Vol. 3. (Istanbul, 1972), who critically traces Riza Nur's
activities prior to 1920.
180. Voluminous correspondence on the topic is in Karabekir,
181. Text on Karabekir, 975-976.
182. Details of the Conference and the resulting treaty on
Karabekir, 1001-1028. Karabekir mentions he had the text of
the Treaty published separately.
183. S. R. Gibbons and P. Morican, League of Nations and UNO
184. Predictably, the Soviet sources are generally silent on
this matter. Moreover, Soviet historiography usually treats
the era thinly, customarily bypassing the 1919-1925 period.
See, for example, [Issuing Body] Akademia Nauk SSSR,
Institut Vostokovedenia Problemy istorii Turtsii (sbornik
stateii), (Moscow, 1978); B. M Potskhveriia Vneshniaia
politika Turtsii posle vtoroi mirovoi viony (Moscow, 1976).
Instead, Soviet authors prefer referring to a "friendship"
between V. I. Lenin and M. K. Ataturk eliptically, based on
their diplomatic correspondence and speeches.
There is also the matter of a "phantom letter"
supposedly written by M. Kemal to Lenin on 26 April 1920. It
appears to be a propaganda operation by Soviet organs, and
that no such letter was written. See Borak Pp. 193-196.
Karabekir's role in the War of Independence is not
universally noted. See SSSR i Turtsii, 1917-1979 M. A.
Gasratian and P. P. Moiseev (Eds.) (Moscow, 1981), where
there are passing references to Karabekir's Istiklal
Harbimiz, for example to P. 882, where Karabekir notes the
arrival of gold from Moscow (see text above).
185. Correspondence that took place between Ataturk and
President Roosevelt, shortly before Ataturk's death (in
1937), indicates Roosevelt's desire to meet Ataturk. It is
stated that Roosevelt wished to visit Ataturk in the Turkish
Republic. See Borak, Pp. 365-367.
186. The Turkish Republic "...declared war on Germany on 23
February 1945, just in time to become a charter member of
the United Nations." Shaw, 399.
187. See Documents on the Middle East, 128-130.
188. See, for example, Charles Wolf, Jr., Turkish
Development Prospects and Policies in Light of Experiences
Elsewhere (Rand Note N-1449, 1980); Paul Henze, The Plot to
Kill the Pope (London, 1984); Lucille Pevsner, Turkey's
Political Crisis: Background, Perspectives, Prospects
(Praeger, 1984) (The Washington Papers/110, Center for
International and Strategic Studies); Philip Robins, Turkey
and the Middle East (NY: Chatham House/Council on Foreign
Relations, 1991); Monteagle Stearns, Entangled Allies (NY:
Council on Foreign Relations, 1991). A partial Soviet view
is found in A. G. Aksenenko, Borba politicheskikh partii
Turtsii za vlianii na molodezh, 1920-1980 (Moscow, 1986).